The TV cameras from S4C's Sgorio broadcasted their first live game from the Airfield this season as Airbus UK Broughton were denied a well-earned point by big-spending TNS. Earlier in the summer The Saints had swooped for defender Simon Spender at the last minute with the ex-Wrexham defender set to sign for Airbus and controversially took the points late on in this game.
The full-time side made a good start with Greg Draper clipping the bar from a Tom Roberts cross within the opening 5 minutes. Facing his old club for the Wingmakers, Craig Whitfield turned and shot over as Airbus gave as good as they got - containing TNS well. On 18 minutes former Wingmaker Craig Jones curled a shot around the far post before Matty Williams headed wide after a spell of Saints pressure.
As Nicky Ward blazed a shot over TNS looked to be lacking a cutting edge. For the Wingmakers Adam Worton crossed for Ian Sheridan but his attempt was held by Paul Harrison in The New Saints goal. Craig Jones hooked another shot wide for TNS before Sheridan had the Wingmakers best chance of the half. The forward made a great run in on goal but Harrison was alert to turn away his low shot. On 38 minutes Nicky Ward received a yellow card for a bad challenge on Wingmakers captain Glenn Rule.
Aeron Edwards headed wide of the far post for TNS before Mike Hayes went wide with a shot for Airbus. The closing stages of the half saw the Wingmakers weather a spell of intense pressure from a succession of TNS corners. Danny Grannon made two good blocks before a Steve Evans shot struck the bar, the rebound falling to Ward who blazed over.
The score remained goalless at half-time with both teams having had chances to take the lead. Following the interval the game opened up with Hayes finding the target but not beating Harrison, and a mistake by Steve Evans nearly letting Craig Whitfield in. On 57 minutes The New Saints made the first substitution of the game as Chris Sergeant replaced Barry Hogan.
Steve Evans headed over from a Simon Spender corner before Wingmakers goalkeeper Niki-Lee Bulmer closed down Aeron Edwards when he found himself in on goal. Both teams had increased the tempo and began forcing mistakes. Another Steve Evans header from a corner was brilliantly turned over the bar by Bulmer before Aeron Edwards picked up a booking for handling the ball.
On 64 minutes the Wingmakers made their first change with Eddie Hope coming on in place of Josh Griffiths. A minute later TNS replaced Greg Draper with Alex Darlington who almost immediately set up a goal. Darlington's deep cross evaded everyone but with the goal gaping Aeron Edwards could only turn his shot over from close-range. Bulmer went on to hold a Seargeant free-kick and Matty Williams drove a long-range shot narrowly wide of the near post as TNS began to shade the game.
With 20 minutes to go the Saints made their final change as Scott Ruscoe came on in place of Nicky Ward. Shortly after Paul Harrison was forced to save from a Craig Whitfield diving header, but the Wingmakers soon found themselves trying to clear their lines in front of their own goalmouth as the game entered the last quarter of an hour.
It was on 77 minutes that the Wingmakers resolve broke. A Christian Sergeant corner was met with a free header from Alex Darlington that looped over Bulmer and gave The New Saints a 1-0 lead. Almost immediately after the goal, TNS forward Matty Williams picked up a booking for a foul on Ryan Edwards.
The Wingmakers hit back almost straight away when, on 79 minutes, they were deservedly level. Great work by Ian Sheridan wide on the right saw him cross into a crowded penalty area. Keeping composed under pressure Mike Hayes snapped up the opportunity with a low show to bring the game back to 1-1.The goal made Hayes the first Airbus player to score in a live televised game, with TNS having grabbed the first goal in a live game at the Airfield beforehand.
Following the equaliser the Wingmakers had more increasing momentum from TNS to defend. With a few minutes to go Airbus made their final changes to help relieve this pressure. Paul McManus and Mark Cadwallader replaced Mike Hayes and Ryan Edwards respectively. As the game entered it's four minutes of stoppage-time it would prove to be of no avail.
When it looked as if the officials should have awarded a free-kick to the Wingmakers for a foul by Tom Roberts, play continued allowing TNS to push forward and score through a low shot in the area from Chris Sergeant. With the goal making it 2-1 in the 94th minute there was no time for the Wingmakers to come back. Right at the end they had been denied what would have been a well-earned point against one of the favourites for the Welsh Premier title.
Disappointing as the ongoing search for a win is, the Wingmakers can take plenty of positives from the game - not least that in front of a TV audience they proved they could compete with the best. The goal from Mike Hayes was also a small piece of history, with the Wingmakers now only needing to win in a live TV game to break the hoodoo of playing front of the cameras.
Airbus - 1: Niki-Lee Bulmer 2: Danny Taylor 3: Adam Worton 4: Mark Allen 5: Danny Grannon 6: Glenn Rule (c) 7: Ryan Edwards (M. Cadwallader) 8: Craig Whitfield 9: Ian Sheridan (McManus) 10: Mike Hayes 11: Josh Griffiths (Hope)
Subs - 12: Mark Cadwallader 13: Josh Atkin 14: Eddie Hope 15: Paul McManus 16: Chris Thomas
TNS - 1: Paul Harrison (c) 2: Simon Spender 19: Tom Roberts 4: Phil Baker 15: Steve Evans 8: Barry Hogan (Sergeant) 23: Aeron Edwards 18: Nicky Ward (Ruscoe) 9: Greg Draper (Darlington) 10: Matty Williams 14: Craig Jones
Subs - 17: Scott Ruscoe 20: Alex Darlington 16: Connell Rawlinson 12: Chris Sergeant 6: Jermaine Johnson 21: Alex Ramsey 29: Marcus Giglio
By Rory Sheehan