Slovan take narrow lead in tie

SK Slovan Bratislava will take a one goal lead into the second leg of the UEFA Champions League Second Qualifying Round tie after beating The New Saints by one goal to nil.

The only goal in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League Second Qualifying Round came in the 51st minute thanks to Erik Cikos.

The Saints started the match well and had a lot of possession in the opening stages. An excellent cross from Chris Marriott was nearly met by Mike Wilde as The Saints troubled the Slovakians down the left hand side.

Marko Milinkovic tested Paul Harrison with two decent shots. The TNS captain tipped the first shot over the bar but only minutes later was forced into a wonderful diving save to keep out the powerful shot.

Midway through the half, Juaraj Helenar unleashed a brilliant long range shot which forced Harrison into another good save.

With 32 minutes gone, the impressive Seydouba Soumah skipped past a couple of TNS defenders and set up Pavel Fort but the tall striker drilled his low shot just wide of the post.

The Saints made a substitution at the start of the second half with Ryan Fraughan being replaced by Alex Darlington.

However, the home side came out with more urgency than they showed in the first period and nearly opened the scoring through Milonkovic.

A minute later and Slovan did break the deadlock. Erik Cikos, who spent time on loan at Ross County cut onto his left food and rifled a shot past Harrison from just outside the box.

With The Saints enjoying a lot of possession, Darlington wonderfully flicked the ball into Mike Wilde’s path and the former Chester City striker narrowly missed the target from just outside the box with goalkeeper Dusan Pernis beaten.

Craig Harrison’s side continued to battle hard and had the majority of the ball in the final half hour but even with Greg Draper coming on for Aeron Edwards, the Slovan defence remained solid and difficult to break down.

With only three minutes of injury time left to play, Draper and Wilde nearly forced Pernis into a mistake but somehow Slovan cleared the danger and held onto the victory.

The TNS line up was Paul Harrison (C), Simon Spender, Chris Marriott, Kai Edwards, Connell Rawlinson, Sam Finley (Scott Ruscoe 87), Aeron Edwards (Greg Draper 83), Chris Seargeant, Mike Wilde, Ryan Fraughan (Alex Darlington 46) and Matty Williams.

The unused substitutes for The Saints were Steve Evans, Chris Mullock, Scott Quigley and Ryan Edwards.

The SK Slovan Bratislava team was Dusan Pernis, Branislav Ninaj, Erik Cikos, Pavel Fort, Juraj Helenar (Erik Grendel 87), Igor Zofcak (C) (Lester Peltier 70), Marko Milinkovic, Tomas Jablsonsky, Seydouba Soumah and Richard Lasik.

The unused substitutes for the home side were Karol Meszaros, Martin Polacek, Michal Siplak and Matej Jakubek.