The New Saints look to take their Euro chance
The New Saints will be looking to seize their chance in the Europa League in this evening’s home tie with Gibraltar outfit Lincoln Red Imps (7pm).
After their brave but early exit in the Champions League against KF Shkendija, the Saints now get another bite at the cherry as they gear up for more European action.
Now it’s the prospect of the Europa League, and standing in their way in the second qualifying round first leg will be the Red Imps.
Should they prevail, the Welsh Premier champions will meet either Midtjylland (Denmark) or Astana (Kazakhstan) in the next stage on August 9 and 16. Astana hold a 2-1 advantage against the Danes from their home leg.
Confidence will be high after staging a stirring fightback against Macedonians Shkendija.
Trailing 5-0 from the first leg, the Oswestry men almost pulled off a stunning rescue act before falling just short to bow out 5-4 on aggregate.
And boss Scott Ruscoe will be looking to maintain that kind of display against a side who famously overcame Celtic 1-0 two years ago in their first leg tie.
“Last week was a fantastic performance, we controlled the game from start to finish, but the lads now have to go out there and produce that level of performance again,” he said
“We’ve done our work on Red Imps, we’re expecting a test, but if we play like we showed we can, then it’s a game we should win.”
While Shkendija looked all at sea on the 3G at Park Hall, tonight’s visitors should have no such problems as they play on a similar surface in Gibraltar.
Founded in 1976, they have won 23 league titles as well as 18 Gibraltar League Senior Cup wins, 17 Rock Cup final victories and have 11 Pepe Reyes trophies to their name.
The highlight was a 1-0 victory in the first leg against Celtic in the Champions League two years ago in Brendan Rogers’ first game in charge of the Scottish high fliers. But the Gibraltar men went down 3-0 in the return for a 3-1 aggregate loss.
Red Imps defeated Sammarinese side Fiorita 2-0 in the preliminary round of this year’s Champions League before losing 4-1 to the Kosovan champions FC Drita after extra time.
TNS, who are the only remaining Welsh Premier club in Europe, will play the return leg next Thursday.
Should they progress, the Saints will be unable to play their home tie at Park Hall due to UEFA regulations, so taking the game to Cardiff could be one of the options.
Meanwhile, Shkendija, who survived a scare against Ruscoe’s men in the last round, emerged 1-0 winners from the first leg of their Champions League clash against Sheriff Tiraspol.