The New Saints FC 1 Europa FC 2
Champions League QR1 1st leg
It was a cool summer’s evening as Champions league returned to Park Hall, as the champions of Wales, The New Saints, faced their Gibraltarian counterparts, Europa FC.
The visitors kicked off playing right to left, from our viewpoint in the press box at Park Hall.
There were a few early exchanges from both sides, but with 2 minutes gone, The New Saints won a free kick which was whipped in by Brobbel. The ball was headed into the box but Scott Quigley was given offside at the far post.
8 minutes – Europa FC broke on the counter attack as Toni raced down the left side and played a beautiful ball across the box. Alex Quillo slotted it passed Harrison and the Gibraltarian outfit had a crucial away goal early on.
10 minutes – Brobbel whipped in a free kick from the far side but no-one in a green and white shirt could get on the end of it.
15 minutes – The New Saints thought they had won a penalty when Pryce went down in the penalty area but referee Barbeno Luca booked the TNS defender for simulation and gave a subsequent free kick to Europa FC.
18 minutes – There was a stoppage in play when the Europa FC goalkeeper and captain, Javi Munoz, went down with an injury but after treatment he was able to continue.
22 minutes – The New Saints won a corner on the far side, which was floated in and headed down, but volleyed wide by Aeron Edwards.
25 minutes – Rawlinson went in the book after a challenge on his counterpart. The subsequent free kick was whipped in at pace but was cleared at the far post. The shot that followed from the edge of the area went over the bar as The New Saints survived another Europa attack.
28 minutes – Europa FC’s number 10, Liam Walker, brought the ball up in the air and struck a wonderful volley which dipped over the TNS bar.
The game then ebbed and flowed with very little clear cut chances for either side.
With 44 minutes gone, The New Saints got the goal they were looking for, as the ball was played forward to Quigley. With a wonderful piece of skill, he flicked the ball up and struck a right footed volley into the top right corner of the net sending the fans into raptures and it was 1-1 game on.
The New Saints kicked off the 2nd half.
There were lots of chances early on in the second period but no-one could get that all-important second goal.
With 53 minutes on the clock, Europa FC had a great chance but the scorer of the first goal, Quillo, fired over the bar.
In the 68th minute TNS made their first change as Alex Darlington came on the Adrian Cieslewicz, with Scott Quigley being replaced by Greg Draper 4 minutes later.
78 minutes – Europa FC took the lead again in superb fashion, as Liam Walker took the ball past 3 TNS players, before playing it to his left. Enrique Gomez Bernal ‘Kike’ then had the time to control the ball and curl a beautiful right-footed shot into the top-right corner past Harrison.
With 81 minutes gone, TNS won a free-kick when Mullan was brought down on the left. The ball was played in by Brobbel but the chance came to nothing.
On 90 minutes, The New Saints made their final change when Mullan was replaced by Fletcher.
The fourth official, Raffaele Delvecchio, indicated that there were 4 minutes of added time for TNS to save themselves. However, Europa FC held on for a hard-fought 2-1 win, courtesy of goals from Quillo and Kike.
TNS starting line-up: Paul Harrison, Simon Spender, Steve Saunders, Connell Rawlinson, Jon Routledge, Ryan Brobbel, Jamie Mullan, Adrian Cieslewicz, Scott Quigley, Aeron Edwards, Ryan Pryce.
Substitutes: Andy Wycherley, Chris Seargeant, Greg Draper, Wes Fletcher, Blaine Hudson, Tom Holland, Alex Darlington.
Substitutions: Darlington for Cieslewicz (68), Draper for Quigley (72), Fletcher for Mullan (90)
Goal: Quigley (44)