THE NEW SAINTS boss Scott Ruscoe has challenged his side to reproduce the same level of performance against Lincoln Red Imps in the Europa League next week after going so close to a Champions League miracle.

TNS fell at the first qualifying round despite nearly overturning a five-goal deficit with a superb 4-0 win against KF Sjkendija at Park Hall with goals from Dean Ebbe, Danny Redmond, Ben Cabango and Kurtis Byrne.

But Ruscoe, who says his side will be prepared for the clash against the Gibraltans, wants to see the same kind of performance.

“We’ve spent time addressing Red Imps’ strengths and weaknesses – they play on 3G, just like us, and it’s going to be a tough test,” he said.

“The lads have to go out there and produce that level of performance again.”

Saints were far more measured in their play than seven days previously and their quick forward passing was rewarded as Ebbe slotted home from close range on 15 minutes.

Saints clearly had the words of Ruscoe ringing in their ears as the outstanding Jon Routledge got on the end of a fine team move but could only fire over on 25 minutes.

TNS’s dominance of the first half-hour was confirmed on 31 minutes as Redmond, making his home debut, slid on to Jamie Mullan’s near-post cross to make it 2-0.

Park Hall was sent delirious four minutes later as Cabango, also making his home debut, was on hand to score following Redmond’s free-kick.

Sub Greg Draper was next to test Zahov on 66 minutes, but he could get only the slightest of touches on Redmond’s fine centre when just eight yards out.

On 75 minutes, Routledge nearly capped off his outstanding performance with a much-deserved goal only to see his effort cannon off the post.

Aeron Edwards followed up and saw his effort blocked by Egzon Bejtulai, with all in Park Hall convinced the ball struck his arm.

Byrne made it four deep in injury time when he tapped home at the back post following Marriott’s pinpoint cross, but it was too little, too late.

Ruscoe admitted the fightback had got his hopes up. “It’s true – it’s the hope that kills you. It’s one of the best performances you’ll see from a TNS team in Europe and we controlled the game from start to finish.

“The chances we created, we could’ve won by five or six. We still had to manage the game to stop the away goal, but if that’s the reaction we get from playing badly, then it’s first class.

“I asked as a bare minimum that players who played last week put right the wrongs and I think they did.

“If we take that performance anywhere the league and cups this year, they’ll be unstoppable.”

TNS: Harrison, Marriott, Hudson, Cabango, Lewis, Routledge, Holland (Byrne 88), Redmond (Cieslewicz 83), Edwards, Mullan, Ebbe (Draper 56)

Subs not used: Roberts, Spender, Seargeant, Nembhar