UEFA Champions League

First qualifying round, second leg

TNS 4 Shkendija 0

(Shkendija won 5-4 on agg)

TNS nearly produced one of the greatest comebacks in European history on Tuesday night but it was not enough to avoid a UEFA Champions League exit.

Trailing Macedonian champions Shkenidija 5-0 after the first leg the Oswestry side needed a miracle.

However goals from Dean Ebbe, Danny Redmond, Ben Cabango and Kurtis Byrne gave the Saints a glimmer of hope only for Shkendija to hold out and seal their aggregate win.

TNS opened the deadlock on 15 minutes with Ebbe converting from close range.

Further pressure saw Jon Routledge lash over the bar with Chris Marriott and Ebbe going close as the hosts dominated.

Shkendija chances were sparse with TNS goalkeeper Paul Harrison only tested by Salazar Junior during the first-half with the home side totally dominant.

The pressure yielded the Saints doubling their lead through Redmond who slid home Jamie Mullan’s 31st minute cross.

Just four minutes later and the Saints supporters were pinching themselves after Cabango steered home a free-kick from Redmond.

The Macedonian champions were panicked into a series of interval changes with the four goal first leg hero Besart Ibraimi introduced.

TNS continued their quick passing and pressing game after the break with Routledge seeing an effort cleared off the line.

However Ibraimi continued to pose a threat on the break with the tie remaining in the balance going into the final 20 minutes.

Substitute Greg Draper forced goalkeeper Kostadin Zahov into action from close range before the outstanding Routledge rattled the woodwork with the loose ball blocked by Egzon Bejtulai in a packed goalmouth amid appeals for a handball.

TNS were rewarded with a last gasp fourth with summer signing Byrne steering home Marriott’s cross but it was too late to prevent their aggregate defeat.

Manager Scott Ruscoe said: “It was one of the best performances you’ll see from a TNS team in Europe. We controlled the game from start to finish.

“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.”

TNS: Harrison, Marriott, Hudson, Cabango, Lewis, Routledge, Holland (Byrne 88), Redmond (Cieslewicz 83), Edwards, Mullan, Ebbe (Draper 56). Subs: Roberts, Spender, Seargeant, Nembhar

Shkendija: Zahov, Shefiti (Ibraimi 45), Musliu, Wakili, Bejtulai, Alimi, Zejnulai (Chesmedzhiev 89), Todorovski (Radeski 45), Junior, Adili, Emini. Subs: Totre, Selmani, Imeri. Redjepi.