NEWTOWN and TNS will gear up for their Boxing Day derby main course with mouthwatering festive starters tonight (Friday).
The Mid Wales rivals go head to head at Latham Park on Tuesday (2.30) in the first of their annual back to back derbies.
However first both clubs must overcome Friday night challenges with Newtown travelling to Connahs Quay Nomads while TNS entertain Aberystwyth Town.
Newtown go into the game with confidence after a superb 2-1 victory at home to Llandudno last Thursday in game marred by the club recording its lowest ever Welsh Premier gate.
“It was a big three points, a massive three points against a team just above us in the league,” said Robins boss Chris Hughes. “We ground it out. We did a good job out of possession particularly in the second-half. At half-time we tweaked a few things tactically and it worked for us on the counter attack.”
Hughes will look to continue to maximise his squad over a busy festive period after Joe Kenton and Nick Rushton came off the bench to link for the Robins winner on Thursday.
“It’s what you want want from your substitutes,” said Hughes. “We are trying to build a squad and competition for places so it bodes well for the future of the team that we have players who can come on an make an impact.”
Newtown will look to repeat the heroics of last season when a last gasp Jamie Price free-kick earned a point in a 3-3 draw which ended the Saints record 27 game winning run last season.
However TNS manager Scott Ruscoe insisted the Saints were not resting on their laurels despite being in contention for a clean sweep of honours.
“At the start of the season, I said I wanted to win all four trophies,” said Ruscoe. “I wanted to go at least one better in the Irn-Bru Cup and reach the final to showcase TNS as a club.”
TNS have a busy festive period with tonight's clash against Aberystwyth Town representing the start of four matches in 12 days with a re-arranged trip to Bala Town on January 2.
Ruscoe said: “You’ve got to throw yourself into it with planning, preparation, looking at players and players’ reports so that everything is taken care of. We assess the opponents and try to find their weaknesses.
“We’re always learning and we’re always looking for new techniques and as a young manager, you like to learn from the best so I watch numerous games during the week.
“We’re looking at strengthen the squad and how we want to kick-on for the season. It’s the mid-term report and I think we’re doing just fine.”