2 - 0
FC Shakhtyor Soligorsk vs Connah's Quay Nomads
UEFA Europa League
Thursday 19th July 2018 | 8:00pm
Stroitel Stadium, Soligork, Belarus | Attendance: 2700
Connah's Quay Nomads were defeated by two goals to nil at Shakhtyor Soligorsk in the UEFA Europa League First Qualifying Round second leg on Thursday evening.
The result which came thanks to goals from Elis Bakaj and Maksim Bordachev, saw The Nomads bow out of the competition with a 5-1 loss on aggregate.
The Nomads came into the second leg after a 3-1 defeat at Rhyls' Corbett Sports Stadium, but hopes of a comeback were high after The Nomads had largely denied Shakhtyor any real chances in the first leg.
Shakhtyor hosted The Nomads in extremely good form, having beaten Brest 3-1 to extend their unbeaten run to 14 games.
Both sides opted for their strongest side possible with Andy Morrison and counterpart, Sergey Tashuev naming unchanged lineups.
The encounter began with a great atmosphere as over 3,100 watched on from the Stroitel Stadium.
The Nomads' attacking intentions were clear from the start as Andy Owens and Ryan Wignall both battled for posession in the final third early on.
Prolific forward, Elis Bakaj released an effort on goal from arond 25 yards out, but John Dnaby dealt with it easily on three minutes.
A free-kick from a similar range was awarded to The Nomads in the ninth minute - Michael Bakare saw his effort claimed by 'keeper Andre Kilmovich.
The game remained even throughout, as The Nomads restricted Soligorsk's chances, whilst working away at The Miners' defence to get a vital goal.
John Danby was called into action in the 17th minute, making a low save to deny a Shakhtyor header from the penatly spot.
On 24 minutes the deadlock was broken after Bosnian official Admir Sehiviv awarded a penalty to the home team for Michael Parker's apparent contact with an attacking Soligorsk player as he helped support The Nomads' backline.
Bakaj made no mistake from the spot, scoring to take the lead and increase The Nomads' task at hand with the Belarusians now leading 4-1 on aggregate.
Despite the goal, The Nomads continued to match Soligorsk and create chances, seen in the 38th minute when Ryan Wignall couldn't get a shot away in the area before Jay Owen had a low 20 yard effort blocked from the edge of the box.
The Nomads were also handed a good opportunity at the end of the first half as Andy Owens was fouled on the edge of the box as he was seemingly elbowed. Lawrence Wilson stepped up to take the free kick, but saw his well hit effort headed away by the wall.
Towards the end of the half, whilst defending a Soligorsk corner, George Horan and Igor Kuzmenok clattered heads, leaving them both in a bloody heap on the floor inside the box. Kuzmenok was immediately substituted by the home team while Horan was bandaged up and returned to the field for the remainder of the first half.
Horan didn't re-emerge for the second half however as he headed to hospital along with Kuzmenok to both receive stitches for their respective head wounds with Jonny Spittle coming on in place of The Nomads' captain.
Danny Holmes, who was also strappy for a bloody nose, went close for The Nomads four minutes after the restart, as he took a free kick from 25 yards which forced Klimovich into a good save to his left.
Andy Morrison then made his second change of the game as Jay Owen was replaced by Noah Edwards. The match remained even as The Nomads stood up to a strong Soligork outfit, but their luck ran out in the 60th minute when they were reduced to 10 men.
As Andy Owens went up for a header, he was immediately shown a straight red card for an apparent elbow - the decision giving The Nomads an even bigger mountain to climb.
The Nomads then made their final change as Michael Parker departed with Declan Poole coming on in his place. As the game's later stages arrived, The Nomads managed a number of Shakhtyor attacks well, with Holmes and Spittle making vital tackles inside their own area to prevent a second goal from the home side.
On 82 minutes, the home side secured their place in the next round as Bordachev connected with a corner at close range to double Soligorsk's lead.
It was a testament to The Nomads spirit that moment after the goal John Danby made a great one-on-one save with the ball breaking to Michael Bakare who released Ryan Wignall through on goal, only to see his low shot hitthe post.
Noah Edwards then used a combination of fitness and skill to evade a Shakhtyor defender on the wing before having a pass to Declan Poole intercepted.
The home side had the ball in the net for a third time, however it was ruled out for offside in injury time.
At full time, The Nomads' exit from the Europa League was confirmed, but they can reflect on two highly competitive games with one of Belarus' and Europe's in-form sides.
The Nomads will now take a week's break before preparations for the 2018-19 JD Welsh Premier League campaign resume.
Match report by Will Catterall
A frustrated Andy Owens is shown a straight red card © NCM Media
Ryan Wignall sees his effort agonisingly hit the post © NCM Media
George Horan was strapped just before half time but required a hospital trip for stitches at the interval © NCM Media
Michael Bakare attempts to break through the Belarussian backline © NCM Media
Callum Morris took on the captain's armband when George Horan departed © NCM Media
1. John Danby
15. Danny Holmes
2. John Disney
5. George Horan
3. Laurence Wilson
17. Michael Parker
7. Ryan Wignall
16. Jay Owen
8. Callum Morris
22. Michael Bakare
10. Andy Owens
28. Jon Rushton
4. Jonny Spittle
11. Nathan Woolfe
12. Declan Poole
20. Noah Edwards
FC Shakhtyor Soligorsk's Scorers
Elis Bakaj (Pen)