BEFORE the season started, Andy Preece hoped to give The New Saints a run for their money in the race for the Welsh Premier title.

But, after a first phase racked by injuries and suspensions, the Airbus director of football admits he is more than happy to have secured a top six spot.

"Before a ball was kicked I would say I was hoping that we could push TNS a lot closer this year but, as the season has unfolded, with the number of players we've had out injured I've got to be delighted that we've made the top six," Preece said.

"It's just been an absolute nightmare for us but somehow we've managed to stick in there, get the odd big result at the right time and now, with most of the players back, were in an OK position. 

"I just felt that this season there might have been a chance (of challenging TNS), they haven't changed their squad a lot and I felt just maybe there was an opportunity. 

"Bala are only six points behind and it just needs somebody to be able to beat them. I thought we were best equipped to beat them on a given day which we did last year along with Connah's Quay now that Andy Morrison is there. We just have a way of playing against them that we can beat them. 

"I just think at this stage that they are too far ahead to catch unfortunately. Our strategy is to do what we've done in the last five games, we are unbeaten, we've played against Connahs Quay, the in form team in the league and managed to beat them and get a draw so with the players coming back we should be able to compete and push for that second place.

"Although it's seven points it was a similar distance last year at this stage and we only just missed out right at the end. The aim is to win as many points as we can and hopefully if we don't get second we can get third which might be enough to get us into Europe."

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