Goals: Draper (49), Edwards (77)
Yellow cards: Brobbel (59), Routledge (87)
Substitutions: Harrington for Marriott (56), Nembhard for Brobbel (67), Byrne for Draper (76)
Match Report: Sam Wood
Two late Feronikeli goals mean The New Saints’ have a tough task ahead of them next week in Kosovo.
Scott Ruscoe’s side appeared to be comfortable following goals from both Greg Draper and Aeron Edwards, but the Kosovan visitors had other ideas.
It was The Saints who started the match in the ascendancy, which is exactly what manager, Ruscoe, would’ve been hoping for. Having enjoyed the main share of possession in the opening few minutes, things only broke down following a loose Simon Spender touch.
The number two and Jamie Mullan were enjoying themselves down the Feronikeli left and both found space to test the ‘keeper with crosses.
It took a while for the Kosovan champions to get going, but they did eventually give TNS a scare on the half-hour mark. Captain, Paul Harrison, needed to be alert to tip a free-kick over the crossbar from the right.
34th minutes had been played before The Saints’ first real chance arrived. Some great link up play between Draper and Edwards saw the latter attempt to slip in Cieslewicz, but the visiting defender did well to get across to cover.
That only proved to spur The Saints on and Aeron Edwards had a golden chance to give his side the lead just minutes later. It was a poor defensive clearance from the Feronikeli defender, and a weak header only dropped as far as the number 23 on the penalty spot. Edwards was off balance though, and couldn’t keep his shot on target.
As a result both sides went into the half-time break with nothing to separate them.
Whatever Ruscoe said in the dressing room certainly worked, and his side were celebrating a penalty just two minutes after the restart. It was Draper who was fouled, and Draper who stepped up, expertly dispatching the penalty to put TNS in front.
That proved a wake-up call for the visitors, who suddenly sprung into life. Harrison had to be alert, as he dived to the left to deny Mevlan Zeka.
Saints soaked up all of the ensuing Kosovan pressure though, and soon found themselves in dreamland.
From a left-sided corner, the visiting goalkeeper misjudged the flight of Redmond’s cross, and the ball landed at the feet of Aeron Edwards at the back post. The Wales C international made no mistake, taping home from close range, and sparking jubilant celebrations.
Feronikeli turned it up a gear further, knowing how important it was to get that away goal, and Harrison was again called into action in the 84th minute as he made another superb save.
With just a minute remaining though, things suddenly took a turn for the worse. Mevlan Zeka met a cross from the left with his head, diverting the ball past the helpless Saints’ captain, grabbing that crucial away goal.
A nervy mood suddenly developed around Park Hall, and in the third minute of added time, disaster struck.
As Spender attempted to control the ball with his chest, it bounced up striking the defender’s arm. The referee wasted no time in awarding a second penalty of the evening, which again was expertly converted.
That made the score 2-2, which leaving Scott Ruscoe’s side with plenty to do in next week’s second leg in Prishtina.
— The New Saints FC (@tnsfc) July 9, 2019
|9th July 2019||7:00 pm||Champions League||2019 - 2020|
|The New Saints FC||2|