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Football: Every game’s a cup final for Nomads boss McGregor

GAP Connah’s Quay face 16 ‘cup finals’ after a much-needed success against title-chasing The New Saints last Friday.

The hard work has only just begun for the Nomads but the superb 1-0 home win against TNS – with Mike Hayes netting on 69 minutes to end the deposed leaders’ 16-match unbeaten run – has set Mark McGregor’s men up perfectly for this Sunday’s long trip to Haverfordwest County (2.30pm).

“We had a chat before the game and we knew we had 17 cup finals to play where we need probably 10 wins from those remaining games,” said a proud McGregor. “And to start off with a victory against the league leaders, after 16 years without a win against them, it was a really positive start.

“But it’s going to be another big step against Haverfordwest as well, with a long journey down there of five hours and we’re also missing a few players as well. Yet it’s another cup final and if we beat them then we’ll only be a few points behind them with two games in hand, so it’s a really good chance to narrow that gap.”

Now victory against TNS has given McGregor’s men the belief they need in themselves to compete with the best.

“The lads’ confidence has never dropped, to be honest,” added the former Wrexham stalwart. “Sometimes they get a bit frustrated with themselves but the team morale and confidence has never dipped. After beating the league leaders, if it gives them confidence to say ‘that’s it, we can do it’, then there’s no reason why we can’t go to any ground in the league and get a decent result.

“It was a really decent performance. We knew it would be hard at times but we dug in, frustrated them and got our breakaway goal, which we had a game plan to do, and it was a pretty similar game to the one at their place earlier in the season (when TNS won 3-0) but this time it worked out in our favour.

“They are very comfortable on the ball and knock it about, so we had a plan to sit in there, frustrate them and hit them on the break, and it worked perfectly.”

Terry McCormack had a superb match in the Nomads goal to keep the title-chasers at bay, and Aaron Burns could have made the result more memorable in the closing stages but was denied by a fantastic stop from Paul ........................Harrison.

Now McGregor, who has been delighted with Burns’ start in a Nomads shirt, is hoping the hotshot can now kick-on.

The boss added: “Aaron’s come in and done well in all three games so far, scoring on his debut at Rhyl. He’s added a new dimension to our game and he will score us goals. Obviously, with the more match time he gets and the more familiar with the players, over the next couple of weeks we expect him to be getting more goals.”

The result against TNS was followed by a NWCFA Cup exit at Barmouth & Dyffryn, where McGregor played mostly fringe players. Gerrard Mullen gave Nomads the lead before Barmouth wrapped up the tie 2-1 in extra time.