The NEW SAINTS boss Scott Ruscoe insists his side will try to salvage some pride in their UEFA Champions League first qualifying round second leg next week as they face a probable exit from the tournament.

Ruscoe’s men were beaten heavily away by Macedonian KF Shkendija last night, thanks to Besart Ibraimi’s four-goal salvo.

But all goals were of the highest quality, giving the home side a 5-0 first-leg advantage for the return trip to Park Hall next Tuesday.

Ruscoe felt his side were disrespected by the Macedonian champions in the build-up to last night’s game, but his side were unable to make them eat their own words as they suffered one of their heaviest defeats in recent years in Europe.

While he was clearly gutted by the result, Ruscoe admitted his TNS players were beaten by the better side – but still pointed to frustrations over mistakes leading to goals.

TNS’ European hopes now look to hinge on a Europa League campaign, which will bring some consolation to the Park Hall side.

“I think in the first half you could see their intent and how sharp they were in passing the ball, but it was nothing we hadn’t seen them do before,” said Ruscoe.

“As good as they were, we were not great. All I asked was if we matched them for work rate, we wouldn’t go far wrong. But we’ve gifted them their first two goals;. We weren’t good enough on the night and were beaten by the better team – end of story.

“I don’t think it will just be Ibraimi we’ll have to worry about in the second leg, but a few good players. We knew about the goals he can score. We’ll give it a go – we have to get some pride back and then use it to work towards the Europa League.”

REPORT n Page 79