Haverfordwest County 2 The New Saints 1

HAVERFORDWEST had their say in the Cymru Premier title race as a second-half winner from Cameron Keetch earned the Bluebirds a memorable 2-1 win over full-timers The New Saints at Bridge Meadow.

Corey Shephard had put Wayne Jones’ side ahead as they looked to bounce back from a last-gasp defeat at Aberystwyth in midweek, but Blaine Hudson’s header put the Saints back on level terms.

Haverfordwest had the final say, however, as with 15 minutes to go Ben Fawcett fed the ball to Shephard, who found Danny Williams, and he set up the overlapping Keetch to fire home the winner.

The win consolidated a top six position for the Bluebirds, on goal difference from Caernarfon, with just three games to go until the league split - starting at leaders Connah’s Quay this Saturday.

The second-placed Saints, with caretaker manager Chris Sergeant in charge after the departure of Scott Ruscoe, started strongly, with Ricky Watts having to block a goal-bound Leo Smith strike.

Ryan Astles then put Matthew Turner under pressure from a corner, but the home keeper did well to punch the ball clear - and the early signs were that it could be a long afternoon for the hosts.

The Saints showed intent from the start, but the hosts went close when Fawcett found space down the left and passed to Shephard, whose shot was saved onto the post by Paul Harrison.

Shephard then put the Bluebirds in front when, after more good work down the left, a Dan Summerfield cross was headed on and Shephard, who struck the ball low and hard into the bottom corner.

The Bluebirds continued to threaten on the counter attack, as Kieran Lewis' pass found Fawcett, who saw his shot saved by Harrison, and Watts' deep cross was then volleyed just wide by Williams.

The visitors responded well, and Louis Robles almost levelled matters in first-half stoppage time, but keeper Turner pulled off a great stop to push away the former Bala man’s close-range header.

Within six minutes of the second half, the Saints were level as a left-sided corner was whipped in by Adrian Cieslewicz, and Blaine Hudson's powerful header struck the bar and bounced over the line.

Again the Saints stepped up, and Dean Ebbe tested Turner with an edge-of-the-box strike, but it was Wayne Jones’ Bluebirds who retook the lead on 73 minutes after a quick breakaway by the hosts.

The Bluebirds worked the ball well to Cameron Keetch, and the striker made no mistake as he beat Paul Harrison from close range to restore his side’s lead, and boost their hopes of a top-six finish.

In a nervy final 10 minutes, Louis Robles was denied a certain goal by some last-ditch defending from Watts, before keeper Turner made yet another great save to turn behind a Ryan Astles header.

Some crucial tackles from Alaric Jones, Jazz Richards and Sean Pemberton helped to further frustrate the visitors, as Haverfordwest secured a home win that was full of character and determination.

Another big challenge awaits, against leaders Connah's Quay at the Deeside on Saturday (March 20).

HAVERFORDWEST: Matthew Turner, Daniel Summerfield, Alaric Jones, Scott Tancock, Ricky Watts (captain), Corey Shephard, Ben Fawcett (Marcus Griffiths 78), Kurtis Rees (Sean Pemberton 85), Kieran Lewis (Cameron Keetch 59), Danny Williams, Jazz Richards. Substitutes not used: Wojciech Gajda (GK), Trystan Jones.

THE NEW SAINTS: Paul Harrison, Simon Spender (Ben Clark 83), Chris Marriott (captain), Gregg Draper (Dean Ebbe 67), Daniel Redmond, Adrian Cieslewicz, Blaine Hudson, Ryan Astles, Louis Robles, Leo Smith (Jamie Mullan 46), Tom Holland. Substitutes not used: Keston Davies, Rob Williams, Adam Roscrow, Jake Canavan.

Referee: David Morgan. Assistants: David Bird and Connor Thomas. Fourth Official: Ben Williams.