Ebbe The Hero, As The New Saints Advance With A 3-2 Aggregate Victory Against Feronikeli

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Match Report

Goals: Ebbe (67)
Yellow cards: Edwards (42), Routledge (62)
Substitutions: Ebbe for Cieslewicz (65), Nembhard for Draper (80)

Match report: Sam Wood

Birthday boy Dean Ebbe headed The New Saints into the second qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League, as they came through a tough test to beat Feronikeli 1-0 in Pristina.

With his first touch of the match, the number 17 rose highest to meet Simon Spender’s pinpoint cross, leaving the home keeper stranded as it nestled into the bottom corner of the net.

Ebbe’s goal secured a 3-2 aggregate victory for The Saints, who go on to face FC Copenhagen of Denmark in the next round.

If the opening 15 minutes had set the pattern of the game, then the outcome would almost certainly have been so much different.

Within four minutes of the kick-off, the hosts had a golden chance to take the lead, as Keston Davies was forced to make a goal saving interception, diverting the ball away from the onrushing Mevlan Zeka.

The centre-back, making only his second start for the club was certainly kept busy, making yet another crucial block with 11 on the clock.

TNS weathered the early storm though, growing into the game and started to look comfortable.

Some great link-up play between Edwards and Draper sent the latter through on goal, but home keeper Smakiqi was alert to come off his line quickly, making a brave save at the striker’s feet.

The game was on a knife edge, with both sides having the occasional half chance as the minutes ticked on, leaving the tie delicately poised at the interval.

Whatever Scott Ruscoe’s said in the dressing room certainly proved inspiring, and with just two minutes played after the restart, TNS could’ve had a penalty. Jamie Mullan went down in the area, under a heavy challenge from home defender Hoxha, but the referee awarded a free-kick in the other direction after spotting a handball.

The Saints were much brighter in the second period and controlled the game for large spells. Both Mullan and Adrian Cieslewicz had further chances – the number 14 wasn’t far away with an overhead kick, moments after the Polish midfielder had seen his effort blocked.

With his side still searching for a goal, Ruscoe looked to his bench. Dean Ebbe was the player he called on, with the Irishman replacing Cieslewicz.

And what an inspired substitution it proved to be. With his first touch, Ebbe rose high to meet Simon Spender’s pinpoint cross, opening the scoring for his side, and giving them the aggregate lead.

The goal sprung Feronikeli into life, and it took some desperate defending to prevent the Kosovans from hitting back almost immediately.

With a 10,000 strong home crowd backing them, The Black Tigers threw almost everything at The Saints in the closing stages, desperate to regain their lead, and there were a number of nervous moments.

However, superb defensive discipline and organisation from Ruscoe’s side was enough to see off the onslaught, booking a place in the second qualifying round against Danish Champions FC Copenhagen at Park Hall next week.

Details

Date Time League Season
16th July 2019 7:45 pm Champions League 2019 - 2020

Ground

Fadil Vokrri Stadium
Pristina, Municipality of Pristina, Kosovo

Results

ClubGoals
Feronikeli0
The New Saints FC1

The New Saints FC

1Paul Harrison Goalkeeper
2Simon Spender Defender
4Keston Davies Defender
6Jon Routledge Midfielder
8Ryan Brobbel Midfielder
9Greg Draper 20 Forward
10Danny Redmond Midfielder
11Adrian Cieslewicz 17 Forward
14Jamie Mullan Forward
17Dean Ebbe 11 Forward
20Joash Nembhard 9 Defender
21Kurtis Byrne Forward
23Aeron Edwards Midfielder
24Ryan Harrington Defender