THE Wingmakers prevented The New Saints from opening-up an almost unassailable nine-point lead at the top of the Welsh Premier table thanks to a Glenn Rule goal in first-half stoppage time at Park Hall.

The New Saints
Airbus UK
Andrew Lincoln reports

Airbus made a bright start and Ryan Wade, restored to the side following a suspension, directed a bicycle kick straight at TNS keeper Paul Harrison and then got free down the right before being denied by a Conall Rawlinson tackle.

But TNS were gifted a goal in the 11th-minute after keeper James Coates had parried a Chris Marriott cross and Andy Jones headed Alex Darlington's subsequent shot to safety.

From the resulting Marriott corner, Michael Wilde beat Coates to the ball to head into the far corner and open the scoring.

An Ellis Healing corner was headed back across goal but was then headed over the bar by Rule, whose 20-yarder moments later was held low down by Harrison.

Wilde went close to a second goal, but his cut back from the byline fizzed across goal without finding a team-mate before Airbus had a strong penalty claim at the other end when Lewis Short appeared to be tripped by Scott Quigley.

Coates redeemed his earlier error with a string of good saves, tipping over an Aeron Edwards shot.

Short was then inches wide with a shot from the edge of the box before Wade blazed an effort well over the bar.

But the wingman made amends minutes later when he got down the byline before pulling the ball to Rule, who turned on a sixpence before firing past keeper Paul Harrison for the equaliser.

Airbus almost took the lead soon after the break when Phil Baker's attempted clearance hit one of his own posts and Chris Budrys was just unable to force the ball over the line as TNS scrambled the ball to safety.

Coates made a superb save to deny Wilde on the hour before Andy Jones headed over at the other end.

Coates also did well to save from Chris Seargeant, but Jones almost had the last word with an 18-yard shot that went narrowly wide in what was the Wingmakers' best performance of the season to date.

Photos (top) Glenn Rule fires the Airbus equaliser and (below) Chris Budrys goes close to a second goal.