It’s the battle of the Saints this weekend as Welsh Premier League champions, The New Saints travel to Scotland to face St. Mirren in the Irn Bru Challenge Cup semi final with the coverage starting on S4C at 3:45 on Sunday.
The Scottish Challenge Cup was traditionally contested by members of the Scottish football league system but this season the Challenge Cup has been expanded to 54 entrants with the inclusion of under-20 teams of the twelve Scottish Premiership clubs, four teams each from the Highland League and Lowland League and two teams each from the NIFL Premiership and Welsh Premier League.
The New Saints and Bala Town joined the competition in the fourth round and TNS booked a place in the semi final with a 1-3 away win at Forfar Athletic, followed by a 0-3 victory at Livingston in the quarter final.
Things didn’t go so smoothly for Bala who were beaten 2-4 at home to Alloa Athletic in the 4th round.
TNS have knocked out the Scottish League Two and Scottish League One leaders and now face a Championship side in St. Mirren.
But one time Challenge Cup winners St. Mirren are struggling at the bottom of the Scottish Championship with only two wins in 23 league games this season.
Rangers are the current cup holders after beating Peterhead in the 2015/16 final.
54 clubs entered the competition this season but The New Saints are now one of only four teams hoping to get their hands on the cup with Queen of the South or Dundee Utd awaiting in the final.
After 31 games without defeat in 2016/17 (won 30, drawn 1) The New Saints’ unbeaten run came to an end at the hands of Carmarthen last Saturday in a 1-0 defeat at Richmond Park.
Despite the loss, The New Saints remain 21 points clear at the top of the table and need only four points from their remaining eight league fixtures to secure the title for the sixth consecutive season.
The Oswestry outfit are hoping to secure four trophies this season as they are closing in on the league title, into the Welsh Cup quarter final, the Irn-Bru Cup semi final and have reclaimed the League Cup trophy for the third consecutive season.
St. Mirren have knocked out Albion Rovers, Hibernian and Ayr Utd to reach the Irn-Bru Challenge Cup semi final but The New Saints are the favourites to win this one.
TNS have already secured £10,250 for reaching the semi final, the sum could shoot up to £12,750 if they get to the final, and the prize fund for the cup winners is £17,750.
St. Mirren v The New Saints – LIVE on S4C this Sunday 19 February at 15:45.
On this day in 1994, Mike Smith started his second spell in charge of the Welsh national side.