UEFA Champions League first qualifying round


BK Hacken 2

Sadiq 19

Sonko 90+1

Agg (1-4)

THE New Saints will have to tread the path of the UEFA Conference League qualifying rounds if they are to achieve dreams of Europe after Champions League defeat on Tuesday. 

A first-half goal from Ibrahim Sadiq and a late finish from sub Momodou Sonko was enough to give Swedish champions BK Hacken a 5-1 win on aggregate at Park Hall.

But Saints boss Craig Harrison will be buoyed by his side’s second-half showing as they showed their form following a blunt first-half performance.

It was a cagey start as the Swedish champions, as they did six days ago, dominated the ball but failed to carve out many clear-cut chances.

But it became the worst possible start for the Saints on 19 minutes as Sadiq gave the visitors a possibly-deserved lead for the second game running.

It was Chris Marriott who failed to clear the ball and Connor Roberts was beaten by a possible deflection off Daniel Davies’s heel which left the Saints keeper incensed.

Five minutes later, it was Sadiq again with his fast feet on the right-hand side, but this time Roberts was equal to the effort, saving with his feet.

Saints were forced into a change on 37 minutes as stalwart midfielder Jon Routledge was replaced by Daniel Williams, the former loan man who made a permanent switch to Park Hall from Swansea this summer.

TNS’s first effort on goal came in first-time stoppage time as Ben Clark’s effort, following some determined tackling from Daniel Williams, was screwed wide by the returning midfielder.

The Saints were a side transformed straight from the break when excellent work from Clark in opening up space saw Josh Pask with the goal at his mercy but he could only put it wide.

But from the goal kick, Jordan Williams won the ball back from a complacent Hacken and this led to Davies forcing a solid save from Peter Abrahamsson.

Hacken regained some control of the ball midway through the second half after surviving much of the pressure faced.

Harrison made a double sub on 75 minutes, introducing Adrian Cieslewicz and Ashley Baker, and the pair almost made a dream start as the former fed the latter but he drew a save from Abrahamsson.

A minute later, fellow sub Rory Holden crossed for Baker and his header only floated over the Hacken crossbar.

Hacken wrapped up the win in injury time with a fine finish from sub Sonko from 12 yards out.

TNS: Roberts, Pask (Baker 75), Astles, Marriott, Davies, Routledge (Williams D 37), Brobbel, Williams J (Cieslewicz 75), Clark (Holden 65), Smith, Daniels