Cool Connor Keeps The New Saints In European Contention

Anyone wanting to know how The New Saints’ hopes of progressing in the Champions League are somehow still alight need look no further than “the best goalkeeper in Welsh football’s top division by a million miles”.

Step forward, Connor Roberts.

The shot-stopper who doubles up as one of his club’s academy coaches prevented a difficult situation becoming an impossible one with two remarkable injury-time saves against BK Hacken in the opening leg of the first-round qualifier in Gothenburg.

Hacken will take a 3-1 lead into next Tuesday’s return clash at Park Hall but they will be vexed that their margin of victory wasn’t greater at the Bravida Arena Stadium.

Saints, by contrast, will be clinging to the hope that an against-the-odds upset might just be possible,  particularly if they can nick an early goal in the second leg.

They have Roberts to thank for keeping them just about in the tie.

The man TNS head coach Craig Harrison has described as Welsh Premier League’s best keeper by a million miles first denied Even Hovland in the 92nd-minute by clawing away a bullet header that had ‘back of the net’ scrawled all over it.

As Hacken upped their quest for the fourth strike that would have surely pushed TNS towards the exit door, Roberts delivered yet again to deny Franklin Tebo from point-blank range.

His efforts mean all hope hasn’t been taken away from the Welsh champions.

They made a terrible start that saw them fall 2-0 behind inside the opening 13 minutes, with Ibrahim Sadiq and Mikkel Rygaard striking for the hosts.

Harrison’s side got themselves back into the game when Declan McManus headed home from a Jordan Williams’ cross in the 32nd-minute, only for Hovland to restore Hacken’s two-goal cushion.

TNS were better after the break, when they effectively parked the bus, often with the entire side behind the ball.

Ryan Astles and Joshua Daniels stood tall  for them, but Hacken were more composed and skilful on the ball and the challenge facing the Welsh Premier League team next week is a major one.

In the Europa Conference League clash at the Dunraven Brewery Field, Penybont drew 1-1 with  FC Santa Coloma, of Andoora.

The visitors took a first-half lead from Mario Mourela’s free-kick, which defeated home keeper Alex Harris.

In front of a crowd of 1,400, Chris Venables levelled matters during a lively second period that saw both sides create opportunites.

Elsewhere in the Conference League, Connah’s Quay Nomads slipped up in Iceland as they lost their first leg tie against KA Akureyri, with goals from Hallgrímur Mar Steingrímsson and Daniel Hafsteinsson securing a 2-0 success for the hosts.

And Haverfordwest County came unstuck 1-0 on the road against North Macedonian team Shkendija.

The match saw the west Walians make their return to European football after a 19-year-absence.

But a strike from Adenis Shala won Shkendija the spoils on the night.

The Conference return legs take place next Thursday.



Wales captain Aaron Ramsey is set to complete a dramatic return to his boyhood club Cardiff City.

The midfielder underwent a medical with Erol Bulut’s team on Thursday.

The potential move is being touted as one of the biggest Welsh football club transfers in history.

Wrexham have also been active in the transfer market, signing defender Will Boyle from Championship club Huddersfield Town for their return to the Football League in the 2023-24 season.

He will join for the club’s pre-season tour of the USA.