NEWI Cefn Druids beat the big freeze on Saturday but they could not beat The New Saints as they began 2009 how they ended 2008 – with defeat.

In one of only two Welsh Premier League matches to survive the cold snap, the Plaskynaston Lane outfit went down 4-1 at the title-challenging full-timers to remain just three points clear of the relegation spots.

Druids, hurting after their pre-New Year derby defeat at home to Airbus UK Broughton, put up a brave fight on the artificial Park Hall pitch, but were ultimately undone by two goals in as many second-half minutes.

The Saints broke the deadlock in the 19th minute when centre-back Rob Williams headed Scott Ruscoe’s cross past Carl Edwards. And they would have doubled their advantage before the break had the post not denied debutant Matthew Berkeley.

Having survived that scare, the visitors were quicker out of the blocks following the restart, with Ricky Evans curling an effort just wide before Geraint Lewis’ header from Evans’ corner forced Paul Harrison into a fine reaction save.

But that kick-started the hosts into life and after John Leah made it two in the 65th minute with a 25-yard beauty, little over 60 seconds later John Toner got in on the act as he coolly rounded Edwards before slotting home.

With freezing fog descending, the in-form Evans reduced the deficit seven minutes from time when he nodded in an inch-perfect cross from Chris Marriott, whose loan from Wrexham has been extended until the end of the season.

But the final word went to the Saints as Mike Wilde swept in their fourth in injury-time.

Druids co-boss Waynne Phillips said: “In the first half we showed them too much respect. We had a good spell for 20 minutes in the second but needed to score then. We couldn’t do a lot with their second goal, but the other three I felt we could have done better with.

“We’re in a relegation battle and we’ve now got three months of hard graft ahead of us.”

Druids, whose New Year’s Day return clash with Airbus was postponed because of a frozen pitch, entertain Port Talbot Town on Saturday (2.30pm).