The New Saints bowed out of the UEFA Champions League after losing by two goals to nil against SK Slovan Bratislava at the Corbett Sports Stadium.
TNS ended up losing the UEFA Champions League Second Qualifying Round tie 3-0 on aggregate after Marko Milinkovic scored twice in the final quarter of an hour to set up a tie against Moldovan Champions, FC Sheriff Tiraspol.
The game sprang to life in the opening minute when Pavel Fort nearly opened the scoring only to be denied by a great tackle from Paul Harrison. A minute later, Greg Draper’s low shot was saved by Dusan Pernis.
After five minutes, Marko Milinkovic nearly broke the deadlock but his powerful left footed drive fizzed just wide of the post.
With ten minutes gone, Igor Zofcak’s corner evaded everyone before hitting the bar and bouncing out.
Midway through the first half, and after some excellent patient build up play, Mike Wilde nearly found the top corner. The striker was expertly picked out by Matty Williams but his shot whistled just past the post.
The second half started with the visitors winning a corner within the first two minutes. The ball fell to Slovan’s captain, but Zofcak lacked composure and smashed the ball over the bar from ten yards out.
Craig Harrison’s Saints withstood a lot of pressure during the early stages of the second half and, on the hour mark, Slovan should have taken the lead. Milinkovic chipped the ball over Harrison but the ball landed on the roof of the net after the winger had been found by Pavel Fort.
The deadlock was broken with fifteen minutes to go when the Saints failed to clear a free kick and Milinkovic’s low shot took a couple of deflections before rolling into the back of the net.
The Saints kept battling on and brought on both Scott Quigley and Steve Evans as the team looked for a way back into the game. However, with near enough the last kick of the game, Slovan added a second.
The impressive Milinkovic curled an unstoppable strike into the top corner leaving Harrison helpless.
SK Slovan Bratislava won 3-0 on aggregate.
The TNS line up was Paul Harrison (C), Simon Spender, Chris Marriott, Phil Baker, Kai Edwards, Aeron Edwards, Sam Finley, Chris Seargeant (Scott Quigley 75), Matty Williams (Alex Darlington 59), Greg Draper and Mike Wilde (Steve Evans 80).
On the bench for TNS was Chris Mullock, Scott Ruscoe, Ryan Fraughan and Connell Rawlinson.
The SK Slovan team was Dusan Pernis, Branislav Ninaj, Erik Cikos, Pavel Fort, Erik Grendel, Igor Zofcak (C) (Karol Meszaros 66), Marko Milinkovic, Tomas Jablonsky, Seydouba Soumah (Juraj Halenar 69), Richard Lasik and Javid Hudak.
On the bench for Slovan was Martin Polacek, Michal Siplak, Matej Jakubek, Lester Peltier and Robert Matchjka