'We're still in it' Ruscoe resolute about TNS's Champions League chances

Published date: 12 July 2017 |
Published by: Barrie White
Read more articles by Barrie White


 

SCOTT Ruscoe is insisting his TNS side are still alive in their Champions League Second Qualifying Round tie with HNK Rijeka despite a first leg defeat in Croatia.

Two goals in each half gave the Croatian champions the win as they dominated the tie, but Scott Quigley spurned two late chances to give TNS a crucial away goal.

Ruscoe admitted he was disappointed with his striker’s decision making, but feels they still have a chance at Park Hall next week but was pleased with his side’s resolve after conceding early on.

“We’re still in the tie – it’s only two goals,” he said. “We’re at home, it’s on the 3G which they might not like, I don’t know.

“A lot of teams come to our place and don’t like it. I don’t know if that’s an advantage, but it’s only 2-0. It’s not four or five and the ties is not dead.

“We’ll go again and we’ll work on what needs to put right ahead of Tuesday.

“We could have pulled one back, but Scott couldn’t quite make it. If we wanted anyone there, it would have been Scott to go through the middle of the pitch and slide it past the keeper.

“I just feel the second chance he had, he could have slid the ball to Jamie Mullan but I would need to see it again. But he’s been brilliant for us in the previous games, so I’m not going to criticise him.

“All I’ve spoken to him about is when he’s in position, make the right decisions.

“If you’re going a goal behind after three or four minutes, it’s very disappointing. You expect the worst but I know the players.

“I said before the game that if they score early, we need to stick together and believe in what we know and believe in each other.

“The players knew the formation and what they were going to do but it’s just on the night, they got two goals. But that two-goal gap is fair.”

It was a poor start for the Saints as Rijeka took a fourth-minute lead when Josip Misic floated a free-kick home from around 20 yards out into Paul Harrison’s top-left corner.

Rijeka, who had the lion’s share of possession, failed to drive that advantage home and didn’t really test Harrison again until three minutes before the break.

Five minutes into the second half, the Saints were given a fright when Harrison failed to gather a simple cross, but his defenders cleared.

Harrison was a spectator on the hour when Alexander Gorgon’s scuffed effort was flicked on by Misic with the TNS keeper left flat-footed s the ball flashed by his opposite post.

Minutes later, Quigley fired an effort just wide as TNS looked to steal an away goal.

Despite some breaks, TNS were being pegged back more and more, and the pressure told on 68 minutes as substitute Florentin Matei was able to tap home at the back post.

Four minutes later, Quigley nearly grabbed that all-important goal, but he failed to get enough of a touch onto Adrian Cieslewicz’s flick-on and Simon Sluga gathered.

Quigley’s decision making let him down with five minutes before the end as he opted to shoot from a tight angle into the side netting despite  Mullan being free in the middle of the box.

The second leg is at Park Hall on Tuesday, with a 7pm kick-off.

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