THE Wingmakers suffered a second successive 3-2 home defeat as Michael Wilde's stoppage time goal put The New Saints five points clear at the top of the table.

Airbus UK
The New Saints
Andrew Lincoln reports

There was a sense of injustice at the outcome of a closely-fought affair in which referee Dean John and his assistant took centre stage with a string of controversial decisions.

With three minutes of added time ebbing away, a cross from the left was parried by keeper James Coates and Wilde stabbed the ball home at the second attempt with the home defence claiming the ball had failed to cross the line.

But referee John awarded a goal, just as he had done in the 57th-minute when Ian Kearney's close range header had keeper Paul Harrison and Matty Williams claiming they had prevented the ball from crossing the whitewash.

The home bench were also incensed by John's decision not to award a penalty when Ryan Wignall appeared to be brought down in the box by Phil Baker and instead yellow carded the wingman for dissent.

TNS had taken the lead after 18 minutes when Simon Spender got behind the Airbus defence down the right and crossed for Adrian Cieslewicz to score at the far post.

The lead lasted just two minutes before Chris Budrys was pushed in the box by Connell Rawlinson and Matty McGinn responded with the equaliser from the penalty spot. McGinn was soon handed the chance to put Airbus in front when Chris Marriott was adjudged to have handled a free-kick, but this time his spot kick was saved by Harrison.

The miss proved costly just past the half hour mark when a breakaway move down the left found Wilde, who rounded Coates before scoring into an empty net.

Airbus had the better of the second half exchanges and, after netting the equaliser, Kearney went close with a long range effort which Harrison gathered at the second attempt before sending a 25-yard drive just wide of the far post.

The Wingmakers were rarely troubled but, just when it seemed they had done enough to earn a deserved point, Wilde's winner proved a heart breaker.

Photos (top) Paul Harrison and Matty Williams try to stop Ian Kearney's equaliser and (below) Ryan Wignall goes down in the box under a Connell Rawlinson challenge.