JOHN HULSE praised his reshuffled Rhyl side for grinding out an impressive victory in difficult circumstances at Belle Vue.
Deprived of two central defenders, skipper George Horan and Carl Ruffer, as well as missing three other regulars, the Lilywhites overcame a strong challenge from a vibrant Caernarfon side, who played nothing like a team struggling near the bottom of the table.
The win keeps Rhyl in third place, still some way off the top two, but looking good for European qualification for a fifth successive season.
“It was a hard game and we had to battle, but when you look at the players we had out, I thought we did extremely well,” said Hulse.
“Carl Ruffer arrived full of flu and we had to send him home, and with George Horan serving a one-match suspension, that meant we had to switch the team around quite a bit.
“I felt we deserved to win overall and although the pitch held up well, conditions were difficult and I felt both sides served up some excellent football in the circumstances.”
Rhyl made the ideal start when in the fifth minute Canaries keeper Craig Vernon failed to hold on to a Stuart Graves corner and Craig Jones drove home at the back post.
Michael White was only denied by the legs of Vernon after a sweeping move before Phil Doran’s firm strike brought the best out of Lilies custodian Lee Kendall.
Caernarfon started the second half strongly and equalised on 53 minutes when John Rowley headed home Peter Doran’s free-kick.
Rhyl responded well, and on the hour a diving header by Lee Hunt from a Graves flag-kick brought the striker his 18th goal of the season.
Lloyd Williams was inches away from a third as Hunt’s low centre fizzed across the six-yard box, but the visitors were also doing their share of attacking.
Addo was thwarted by a last gasp tackle, Kendall kept out a James Thomas drive at his near post and Peter Doran struck a long range shot just over.
Rhyl badly needed a third and it arrived on 87 minutes. White made a dynamic break from just outside his own box, taking on the entire Caernarfon defence before being flattened by Lee Bamber.
Bamber was fortunate to escape with a yellow card but Mark Connolly’s free-kick curled into the top corner like a rocket.