Camp Nou, Old Trafford, Santiago Bernabéu, San Siro and the Fußball Arena München, to name but a few, must all be daunting places to visit as an away side. However, none of the teams resident at those stadiums can boast as impressive a home record as Welsh Premier League title holders The New Saints FC, who have won every home game in a calendar year.
Second-half goals from Kai Edwards, Michael Wilde and Chris Seargeant proved sufficient to overcome a resilient Rhyl FC side last Friday and complete an incredible run of home victories. The last time TNS failed to win on the artificial 3G surface at their Park Hall Stadium was 24 November 2012 when Carmarthen Town AFC triumphed 3-0 and their next home match is not until 30 November when Prestatyn Town FC visit. Therefore, since last November, TNS have claimed 14 consecutive home wins, scoring 55 goals and shipping just three.
The victory over Rhyl lifted the champions back to the top of the table, above AUK Broughton FC on goal difference. "We wanted to make our home a fortress and full credit to the players, they have done just that," TNS manager Carl Darlington told UEFA.com. "The key for us is to get the ball down and play, and we have achieved this incredible record by playing football the right way.
"The manner of the last defeat at home was a catalyst for us achieving what we have. We created a host chances, but we weren't ruthless enough and didn't make them count, and Carmarthen hit us three times on the counterattack. Our players learnt that day that they cannot afford to be complacent and that they have to work hard to earn results. The collective attitude and ethos of this team is superb. I am very proud of what we have achieved."
Darlington, who is also technical programmes manager for the Welsh Football Trust, believes it is the team's togetherness and work ethic that have been key to their success. "We have a fantastic defensive record, but we attack and defend as a team – it really is a collective effort," he added. "Our defenders push forward and our strikers track back. Last season we averaged over 490 passes per game, this season we are already averaging over 550, and our play is not restricted to certain areas of the field either."
Although TNS lead the way, Darlington sees room for improvement on the road with just three wins out of six this term. "Traditionally we are slow starters in the league," he said. "However, we believe in our style of play, and our passing game remains the same even when we are playing on difficult surfaces. It can be a brave approach in certain fixtures, but we have faith in our players and trust in our system."
This season TNS have hit 25 goals in their six home matches and are yet to concede – giving them hope they can extend their remarkable streak for a while longer.
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