The New Saints 4-0 KF Shkëndija: Ruscoe’s signings on target as New Saints near incredible comeback
The New Saints bowed out of Champions League after making a gallant effort in their second leg against KF Shkëndija.
Scott Ruscoe’s men lost 5-0 in the away leg, but very nearly overturned the deficit, by narrowly missing out by one goal.
Three of the four summer signings, Danny Redmond, Ben Cabango and Kurtis Byrne were all on the score sheet. Dean Ebbe who joined in January put The New Saints on their way to a convincing victory.
Besart Ibraimi scored four goals for the Macedonian Champions in the first leg but was rested until half-time, as Qatip Osmani made two changes.
They will now play in Round Two of Qualifying in the UEFA Europa League against Gibraltar champions Lincoln Red Imps, with the first leg scheduled at Park Hall for next Thursday
The New Saints began the game on the front foot and were comfortable in possession.
The early pressure paid off and Dean Ebbe put an effort under Zahov, to claw one back on the aggregate scoreline.
It was very nearly two as Chris Marriott made a smart run and put his effort just over the bar. Jon Routledge was next, as he curled his effort wide of the goal.
Just five minutes later, a sense of belief was installed as The New Saints scored their third. Swansea City loanee Ben Cabango was on target as a free-kick wasn’t dealt with.
No more goals were scored in the first-half, as the visitors made two substitutes at the break. Besart Ibraimi replaced Visar Musilu, whilst Marjan Radeski replaced Blagoja Todorovski.
Ruscoe’s men began the second half as they did the first and were unlucky not to be four up, when Routledge broke in to the box and forced another save from Zahov.
Goalscorer Dean Ebbe was replaced and on came Welsh Premier League Golden Boot winner Greg Draper. He met Redmond’s cross but with no real venom.
After a spell of no action, The New Saints found their pace again and Aeron Edwards was denied as his shot was cleared off the line.
With fifteen minutes to go, Jon Routledge hit the post with a volley, before Shkendija could get the ball away. Mullan who was instrumental in The New Saints attack, then put an effort just wide of the goal.
As additional time was added on, following an injury to Radeski. The New Saint were buoyed by the one-man advantage. Kurtis Byrne fired home to give The New Saints a slight chance of extra-time.
Byrne’s late goal wasn’t enough though, as The New Saints bowed out of the Champions League with a proud performance.
The New Saints
Harrison (C), Holland (Byrne 89), Redmond (Cieslewicz 83), Mariott, Routledge, Mullan, Cabango, Hudson, Edwards, Lewis, Ebbe (Draper 56)
Zahov, Shefiti (Ibraimi 45), Musliu, Wakili, bejtulai, Alimi, Zejnulai (Cheshmedzhiev 89), Todorvski (Radeski 45), da Fonseca Salazar Junior, Adili, Emini
(Featured Image: Brian Jones)