Dafabet Welsh Premier
NICKY Rushton continued his impressive loan form with the winning goal as Newtown opened their play-off conference campaign on a high at Llandudno.
Despite a woeful first half of the season the Robins headed to Maesdu Park determined to hit the ground running in the race for seventh place and a second bite at the European cherry.
Rushton fired a warning shot inside the opening minute and set the tone for the rest of the half which the Robins dominated.
On 15 minutes the Seasiders were forced to clear their lines when Craig Williams’ corner dipped under the bar while also seeing a long range shot saved by goalkeeper Dave Roberts.
At the other end Robins goalkeeper Jack Perry, deputising for the injured Dave Jones, was quick to the feet of Lee Thomas who dragged wide in a rare opening for the hosts.
Newtown deservedly led on 28 minutes when top scorer Jason Oswell rose above the Llandudno defence to head home Williams’ corner.
The Robins should have doubled their lead soon after only for Steff Edwards to fluff his lines but on the stroke of half-time Rushton made no mistake.
A swift break down the wing from Edwards led to him squaring for Rushton who calmly slotted past Roberts to celebrate his second goal in as many games since arriving from Gap Connahs Quay on loan.
Llandudno began the second-half with intent as Marc Williams headed wide before debutant Sam Hart spurned a free-kick which failed to test Perry.
Newtown chances were sparse with Oswell heading over the bar in one such opening as Llandudno enjoyed their spell of the game at the start of the second-half.
However Llandudno failed to create any clear openings and Newtown weathered the pressure until 10 minutes from time when Mike Williams went down in the area and amidst confusion, referee Bryn Markham-Jones awarded a penalty which Hart duly converted to set up a thrilling finale.
Llandudno laid siege and almost snatched a point at the last when Owain Jones’ effort was blocked on the line before heading the rebound inches wide as Newtown held out.
NEWTOWN: Perry, Williams, Sutton, Mills-Evans, Edwards, Goodwin, Fletcher, Price, Mitchell, Rushton, Oswell. Subs: Cadwallader, Boundford, Kershaw, Stephens, Kenton, Rose.
Att – 236