TWO of Barry Town’s brightest young stars burned bright on Saturday (28th September), as the JD Cymru Premier leaders humbled perennial champions The New Saints by a single goal at Park Hall, writes Ashley Cox.

Neither goalscorer Evan Press nor goalkeeper George Ratcliffe were even born when Mike Harris’ TNS prised the then-League of Wales trophy from Barry Town’s iron grip for the first time in 2000.

Nonetheless, the two 19-year olds both played a starring role in Barry’s 1-0 win, as Gavin Chesterfield’s unbeaten team stretched their lead at the top of the division to four points.

The Saints had been anything but shot-shy in 2019-20 to date, scoring six times at Carmarthen Town and ten in Aberystwyth to augment their tally to 23 goals in seven previous Cymru Premier outings.

However, the full-time professionals were simply unable to bypass Wales U21 star Ratcliffe, whose dynamic showing between the sticks enabled Barry to keep a fifth clean sheet in consecutive games.

Trying his luck in the tentative stages, former Middlesbrough man Ryan Brobbel showed skill to cut inside, but his testing, right-footed strike from outside the penalty area was palmed to safety by an outstretched Ratcliffe, in the first of a series of standout stops from the youthful Barry goalkeeper.

24 minutes in, the visitors went ahead, with Chris Hugh surging centrally from the left and finding an unmarked Press, who took a touch, then uncorked a ferocious drive that almost broke the TNS net.

It was another showstopping strike from a Barry Town side who continue to exert a real contender’s confidence and one that Press will particularly cherish, his first senior goal for the Jenner Park outfit.

Looking to bounce back before the break, the Brobbel/Ratcliffe rivalry resumed moments later, only for the dangerman to be denied once more, with a low save keeping Barry’s spotless defence intact.

Meanwhile, Town were hungry for more, with Luke Cummings’ up-field ball knocked down sublimely by Kayne McLaggon, allowing winger Drew Fahiya to race in on goal, only to see his final shot saved.

The second half saw Barry continue to press, with Press himself showing strength and belief to shoot again from distance, though his sizzling attempt this time soared wide of Paul Harrison’s goal frame.

At the other end, TNS upped the tempo in the Barry box, with Brobbel this time turning supplier, though teammate Jon Routledge would see his shot swiftly tipped over by the resilient Ratcliffe.

Later, McLaggon made an alert interception, carrying the football forward and regaining it on loss, before hassling Harrison with a right-footed smash that almost nipped in at the keeper’s near post.

There would though be no further goals to report, with Barry delighted to leave Park Hall with a second victory from four visits, having previously prevailed by the same score in October 2017.

With a quarter of the season completed, Barry sit four points clear of last term’s top two, TNS and Connah’s Quay Nomads, with Andy Morrison’s men winning 3-1 at home to Penybont on Sunday.

Next for the Town is a trip to seventh-placed Newtown on Saturday (5th October, 2.30pm kick-off).

The Robins have been something of a bogey side to Barry in recent seasons, running out 3-1 winners at Jenner Park on the final day of 2018-19 and taking three of their last four meetings at Latham Park, including a 3-0 mauling in March and a tighter 2-0 triumph almost exactly a year ago.

Nevertheless, Barry’s stirring start to the season should stand them in good stead this weekend, with Chesterfield’s charges knowing any positive result would stretch their unbeaten run to nine matches, ahead of the derby showdown with Penybont at Jenner Park on Saturday 12th October (2.30pm).