The New Saints win sets up Copenhagen clash
Dean Ebbe came off the bench to head The New Saints into the second qualifying round of the Champions League.
Having just been introduced as a substitute two minutes earlier by manager Scott Ruscoe, Ebbe made it a night to remember for Saints at the Kosovan national stadium in Pristina.
Level at 2-2 from the home leg in Oswestry a week earlier, the goal TNS needed to set up an attractive clash with Danish champions FC Copenhagen in the next round arrived midway through the second half.
Simon Spender delivered a cross and Ebbe did the rest, his impact as a sub immediate, heading home to impressively seal progress.
Ruscoe made just one change from the side which started the home leg, with recent signing Ryan Harrington handed his first start, replacing Chris Marriott at the heart of the back four, just as he had early in the second half at Park Hall a week earlier.
The hosts started brightly, but TNS defended well before creating a good chance at the other end.
Aeron Edwards and Greg Draper, the two TNS goalscorers in the home leg, combined well, with Feronikeli goalkeeper Florjan Smakiqi racing off his line to save bravely at the feet of striker Draper.
Astrid Fazliu drilled a fierce shot off target for Feronikeli as the first half ended goalless.
TNS were first to threaten after the break with Jamie Mullan’s overhead kick going wide, but then, with the clock on 67 minutes, came the decisive moment as Irish striker Ebbe took centre stage to head the Saints to victory.
Feronikeli pushed for a late equaliser, but this time there was to be no repeat of their dramatic late heroics in Oswestry, with goalkeeper Paul Harrison well protected by the men in front of him as TNS stood firm to win through to the next round.
TNS: Harrison, Spender, Davies, Harrington, Redmond, Routledge, Edwards, Mullan, Brobbel, Cieslewicz (Ebbe 65), Draper (Nembhard 80). Subs not used: Hughes, Clark, Byrne, Whitehouse, Roberts.
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