Dafabet Welsh Premier League
Bangor City 3
By David Figg
The New Saints suffered only their third league defeat of the season as they crashed to a surprise away defeat at old adversaries Bangor City on Good Friday.
It was Saints’ first defeat by City in any competition since they lost 1-0 to The Citizens in the Welsh Cup semi-final at Rhyl on April 6, 2013 – a run of 13 straight Saints wins.
Furthermore, it not only ended Saints’ run of 17 straight league wins over Bangor since City won 4-3 at Park Hall on November 13, 2011, but it was Saints’ first league defeat on Bangor soil since City won 1-0 in a title decider on the final day of the season at their old Farrar Road ground on April 30, 2011.
Indeed, it was Saints’ biggest defeat by Bangor since a 3-0 league loss at Farrar Road on April 9, 2002.
The first chance of note came City’s way in the third minute when Henry Jones cut in from the left before sending his rising shot over the bar.
Then at the same end three minutes later, Jones’s run through the middle ended with him firing his shot straight at Saints keeper Paul Harrison.
Saints’ first chance of note came in the ninth minute when Chris Marriott’s free-kick from the edge of the box was deflected off the City wall for a corner.
The visitors had a golden chance to take the lead in the 15th minute when Greg Draper was left in a one on one with City keeper Connor Roberts but dragged his shot wide of the keeper’s post when well placed.
But they were then forced into making an early substitution in the 26th minute when Mihai Leca came on for James Jones.
Saints had a let-off in the 28th minute when a light back pass by Ryan Pryce let in Nardiello, who rounded Harrison on the byeline before having his effort blocked at the near post by a well-positioned Leca.
But in the 40th minute, the Romanian went from hero to villain when he was judged to have fouled Nardiello, who was through on goal.
Leca, who turned 21 on Friday, was shown a straight red card by Connah’s Quay referee Nick Pratt to leave Saints to battle on with 10 men.
City took the lead in the 49th minute when Bradley Jackson’s cross from the left found Jones, who headed past Harrison for his 14th of the season in all competitions.
Saints made a double change in the 66th minute with Adrian Cieslewicz coming on for Darlington and Scott Quigley replacing Jamie Mullan as manager Craig Harrison made a bid to get his side back in the game.
However, City went close to doubling their lead a minute later when a good move involving Jones and caretaker player-manager Gary Taylor-Fletcher ended with Rittenberg firing his volley off target.
It was 2-0 in the 74th minute when Taylor-Fletcher’s ball in from the right found Nardiello, who twisted and turned in the six-yard box to wrong-foot the Saints defence before slotting home for his 13th goal of the season.
City went close in the 90th minute when Sion Edwards had his effort blocked for a corner, and from the resulting flag kick from the right in the first minute of added time, Taylor-Fletcher poked home at the far post to make it 3-0 to complete Saints’ misery.
City: Roberts, Wilson, Roberts, Jackson, Allen, Nardiello (Uyi 85), Rittenberg, Baio (Edwards 81) Taylor-Fletcher, Jones, Connolly.
Not used: Gosset, Hall
Saints: Harrison, Marriott, Routledge, Brobbel, Draper, Mullan (Quigley 66), Steve Saunders, Darlington (Cieslewicz 66), Edwards, Pryce, Jones (Leca 26).
Not used: Parry, Matthews, Ashworth, Wycherley