It was always going to be a tough ask for Llanelli Town on their visit to Park Hall in the fourth round of the JD Welsh cup to take on the triple holders of the trophy as well as being runaway undefeated leaders of the Welsh Premier League. An d their worst nightmares were realised as they were comprehensively outplayed by their opponents, although their cause was not helped by the absence of six players, with two being cup-tied, while the rest were absent through unavailability, illness and injury.
As a result, the bench was looking somewhat bare, with Luke Morgan, Leon Martin and 16 year-old Iwan McNab named as the substitutes, although the way the tie panned out, even with the presence of the missing players the result would not have been that much different. The Saints stroked the ball about with elegant ease, and the Reds` defence was hard pressed to contain them from the outset, with Richard Lewis, in particular, having a torrid time when faced with the dual threat of Ryan Pryce and James Mullan, although to be fair he was not helped by some ineffective covering by his colleagues.
After an early chance for the giant home striker, Scott Quigley, which saw lift his finish over the top from a Chris Seargeant cross, he made amends by opening the scoring after 10 minutes, powering his header past Craig Morris following a flighted ball by Adrian Cieslewicz, and four minutes later notched his brace, turning home a low cross by Pryce into the middle. The Reds` keeper was in for a busy afternoon, and it was thanks in a large part to his efforts that the final tally was not greater as he pulled off a string of excellent saves.
Two came in quick succession, when he pushed clear a dangerous cross from Mullan before diverting a Cieslewicz effort around the upright. The visitors` goal survived another close call when an attempted clearance only found Mullan who directed the ball across the face of the net which Quigley just failed to meet. Robert Thomas brought off a saving tackle on the Saints` striker in the box when Jon Routledge set up the chance, before the Reds finally launched an attack of their own with Lee Trundle finding Jordan Follows, and he forced goalkeeper Paul Harrison to push his shot around the post.
Lewis fired just wide from distance when the Reds broke again, but it was the home side who extended their lead on 34 minutes following another Pryce cross which found Mullan in space, and he made no mistake with his finish. It was one-way traffic towards the Reds` goal, with Aeron Edwards curling his effort just wide from an assist by Mullan, while Morris did well again to direct the ball away from Quigley when a cross came into the goalmouth.
Three down at the break and already facing an uphill battle, the visitors made an early second half change with Morgan replacing Lewis and Thomas taking over at full back, and to their credit, they were far more positive in the second period, with Jordan Davies stinging the hands of Harrison with a fiercely struck shot which he parried and eventually gathered safely.
Trundle, who was being kept relatively quiet by the close attentions of the home defenders and was living off scraps of possession, managed to release Liam Samuel whose run took him into the box where he went down under a challenge, but referee Kris Hames waved play on.
When the Reds launched another foray, Trundle found Follows whose initial shot was blocked close to goal, and when he met the rebound, it was hacked off the line. This was about the closest they achieved to a breakthrough, and their opponents stretched the lead even further on 63 minutes when Mullan was brought down in the area by a challenge from Thomas leading to the award of a penalty, which Quigley duly netted to complete his hat-trick.
He went close again, this time striking the bar with his attempt, before the Saints struck again in the 72nd minute through Cieslewicz who met a delivery at the far post and volley superbly across Morris into the far corner. Samuel was replaced by young McNab on 73 minutes, and he displayed some neat touches during his time on the field.
Quigley headed wide from a decent position from a Seargeant delivery, before six minutes from time the Saints struck again for their sixth though Simon Spender when Alex Darlington laid on the chance. The Reds` miserable afternoon was compounded in stoppage time when Quigley got his fourth and his side`s seventh following yet another through ball past the flagging visitors` rearguard.
A harsh lesson for the Reds who were taken apart by superb opponents, and on this evidence it is hard to envisage any side coming close to a win against them as they appear to have few chinks in their armour.
THE NEW SAINTS; Harrison ©; Pryce; Marriott (Spender, 79); Saunders; Rawlinson; Routledge; Edwards (Darlington, 66); Seargeant; Cieslewicz (Brabbel, 75); Quigley; Mullan; Subs. not used; Wicherley; Draper.
LLANELLI TOWN; Morris; Graves; Lewis (Morgan, 52); R. Thomas; C. Thomas; Bevan ©; Samuel (McNab, 73); Davies; Follows; Trundle; R. Jones; Sub. not used; Martin.
SCORERS; The New Saints – Quigley; 10, 14, 63(P); 90 + 2. Mullan,34; Cieslewicz, 72; Spender, 84.
YELLOW CARD; Llanelli Town – R. Thomas.
REFEREE; Kris Hames (Aberdare).