A DELIGHTED TNS boss Scott Ruscoe believes his side's extra-time Europa League first qualifying round win over Slovak side MSK Zilina ranks as one of their best in his reign.

Goals from debutants Louis Robles and Leo Smith, plus a late penalty from Adrian Cieslewicz, fired The New Saints into Monday's draw for the second qualifying round.

While Saints have recorded outstanding wins in Ruscoe's four campaigns abroad, he believes this win over a much-fancied opponent was worthy of mention.

"I think there's been a few European results where I've felt we've overachieved, like last year," said Ruscoe.

"But as an all-around accomplished performance, there's no beating that, especially if you look at how many chances we had and the goals we should have scored.

"There were four or five chances, and I turned around and worried if they got a penalty or a breakaway.

"But when we put that ball in and Leo flicked it in, I just knew it was going to be our night."

Saints were on their game from the first whistle, and could have been four to the good within the opening 10 minutes, but Ruscoe admitted he was worried by their lack of clinical finishing.

He added: "We're so fit, we're so hungry and we're playing a different way this year where we press the other teams so they don't have a chance.

"You saw that we had to sit off now and again because you can't press all of the time, but we could nick it off the centre backs because of the high press.

"The team is picked on who is the fittest and also deal with the ball too, and I thought we were really good on that front too.

"It was a fully deserved win, when you look at the balance of play – while they have lost a lot of players, they are still a good side with lots of sound players full of energy.

"We knew that because they had a couple of games already and from watching them play, we knew the spaces we could get in and we got at them from minute one.

We knew we could force the goalkeeper could make mistakes.

"If we had lost that game on that penalty and them then nicking another one, it would've been harsh but our heads never went down, even though we conceded.

"We deserved the win."

Ruscoe paid tribute to his two debutant scorers Robles and Smith and also to centre-back Ryan Astles, who played his part in the second goal.

He said: "I was happy for the new signings scoring and Ryan played really well too – he's a big boy so he's going to do well in both boxes.

"I've nothing but praise for the new signings for coming into the team and looking like they've played with us for years."

Ruscoe admitted he would welcome a home tie ahead of Monday's draw for the second qualifying round.