UEFA Champions League

First Qualifying Round Second Leg

Feronikeli 0

The New Saints 1

(Agg: 2-3)

DEAN Ebbe’s winner with his first touch against Feronikeli in Kosovo booked The New Saints a spot in the second qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League against Danish side FC Copenhagen.

The Irish striker’s header from Simon Spender’s cross in the second half proved to be the difference for Scott Ruscoe’s men on a famous European night for the Park Hall men.

The Saints had to endure some early pressure as the Kosovan side forced a succession of corners within the opening 10 minutes, with new boy Keston Davies making two vital interceptions.

However, TNS fought back to force a number of corners of their own with Aeron Edwards and Danny Redmond linking well down the left-hand flank.

Saints were given a scare by Besmir Bojku as his effort in the 22nd minute was struck hard and well but it flashed past Paul Harrison’s post.

On 26 minutes, there was a fantastic chance for TNS, as Edwards linked up well with Greg Draper but Feronikeli keeper Florian Smakiqi was off his line quickly to save bravely at the feet of the Kiwi striker.

Davies, who made his debut in last week’s first leg at Park Hall, made a crucial intervention on the stroke of half-time as both sides headed into the break with the game goalless.

Ruscoe was left incensed in the early stages of the second half as Jamie Mullan appeared to be fouled in the Feronikeli box.

But the free-kick was given against the TNS man, potentially for handball.

Saints were playing the patience game, but Adrian Cieslewicz had another appeal for a penalty waived away on 54 minutes after his jinking run and shot appeared to be handled in the area.

The hosts came back into the clash around the hour mark but some solid Saints defending saw the ball out for the corner when the home fans were desperate for a spot-kick.

Ebbe made his introduction on 65 minutes and what an instant impact he made as the birthday boy headed home two minutes later with what was his first touch after replacing Cieslewicz to put Saints in the driving seat.

Saints boss Ruscoe decided to shore his defensive options when he sent on Joash Nembhard on with 11 minutes remaining to play as an extra midfielder in place of Greg Draper.

TNS nerves were fraying as the Kosovan champions pushed for an equaliser that would send them through at TNS’ expense but they fired high and wide with minutes left.

Saints’ hearts were in their mouths when Feronikeli appealed for a penalty but like Mullan earlier on, the Norwegian referee gave a free kick the other way.

But after five minutes of added time, Saints held on to reach the second round against the Danes

TNS: Harrison, Spender, Davies, Harrington, Redmond, Routledge, Edwards, Cieslewicz (Ebbe 65), Brobbel, Mullan, Draper (Nembhard 79)

Subs not used: Roberts, Hughes, Clark, Byrne, Whitehouse