Connah’s Quay Nomads 1-3 FC Shakhtyor Soligorsk
The Belle Vue Stadium
Connah’s Quay Nomads scorer: Callum Morris 88’
FC Shakhtyor Soligorsk scorers: Max Ebong 19’, Elis Bakaj 33’, Mikhail Shibun 75’
Beginning their third successive UEFA Europa League campaign on Thursday evening, The Nomads welcomed Belarusian outfit FC Shakhtyor Soligorsk to Rhyl’s Belle Vue Stadium for the first leg of their First Qualifying Round clash.
It was a good start for Connah’s Quay on the night as they settled quickly and looked to get down the sides of the opposition and test the defence with crosses, which they succeeded to do, but the visitors dealt with the danger well.
Elis Bakaj broke clear after eight minutes after The Nomads had committed bodies to an attack down the other end of the pitch, and in a two-v-two situation, Bakaj opted not to pass and instead went alone and shot from outside the box, forcing a superb save out of John Danby from 25 yards.
Andy Owens made life difficult for the visitors throughout, and won a free kick after 17 minutes out on the left for Lawrence Wilson to whip into the box - which Owen then met - but the delivery was headed inches over and the chance went begging.
Almost immediately following that missed chance, the visitors went ahead with a close-range finish as Max Ebong poked beyond Danby from six yards out and made it 0-1 to the visitors, before Bakaj netted 15 minutes later to make it 0-2 and give the home side a tough task in the second half.
The home side made a positive start to the second half, controlling possession, gaining a lot more territory, and keeping the visitors in their half for the most part as well as forcing some good saves out of Andrei Klimovich between the sticks for Soligorsk, but even in spite of that it was the visitors who scored next as Mikhail Sabun made it 0-3.
Callum Morris netted a late penalty for the home side to pull a goal back, who did deserve a goal for their efforts on the night, and they go into next week’s second leg with another tough test ahead of them.