TNS 2 Feronikeli 2

THE New Saints know they will need an away victory if they are to progress through to the next round of the UEFA Champions League qualifiers after losing a two-goal lead late into the home tie.

Scott Ruscoe’s men were 2-0 up against the Kosovan champions after a Greg Draper penalty and Aeron Edwards goal looked to be the difference.

However, a late pair of goals gave the Kosovan treble-winning side two all important away goals and flipped the tie on its head as they head into the second leg.

A quiet first half saw few chances for either side, but it was during the second half that the game came to life.

With what was a much quicker start to the game in the second half, Draper put the hosts after firing home a penalty in the 49th minute.

The back to back golden boot winner fulfilled his wish to get off the mark in the European competition and smashed his powerful spot kick into the middle of the net.

Ruscoe’s side used the momentum from the goal to look for a second, but were almost caught out when a counter attack for the visitors which found Melvan Zeka who forced a good stop from goalkeeper Paul Harrison.

Zeka came close again after a good delivery from the right found him at the back post, but Simon Spender did enough to put the Kosovan off.

An important goal came in the 77th minute however when the Saints dealt a huge blow to their visitors.

Aeron Edwards doubled the lead when he capitalised on some poor defending from a corner and fired into an open net.

With the Saints looking to protect a clean sheet, there was a moment of panic when Zeka found himself one on one with Harrison, but the Saints stopper stood strong to parry away his effort.

However, Zeka’s perseverance paid off late into the game however when he found the net with a header in the 89th minute to grab an important away goal and restore some hope for the side.

The Saints looked to be heading into the second leg with a win but were punished for a lack of concentration when the referee awarded them a penalty in the 93rd minute following a handball by Spender.

Astrit Fazliu held his nerve and fired home in the 93rd minute to give his side a slim advantage heading into the second leg after a 2-2 draw.

TNS travel to Kosovo for the return leg on Tuesday, July 16 (kick off 7.45pm).

TNS: Harrison, Spender, Marriott (Harrington 57), Davies, Routledge, Brobbell (Nembhard 67), Draper (Byrne 75), Redmond, Cieslewicz, Mullan, Edwards. Subs: Roberts, Hughes, Ebbe, Whitehouse.