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Stabæk Fotball vs Connah's Quay Nomads
UEFA Europa League
Thursday 7th July 2016 | 7:00pm
Match played at Fredrikstad Stadion, Norway. | Attendance: 384
The Nomads defeated Stabaek Fotball 1-0 in Fredrikstad, Norway on Thursday evening. A Callum Morris goal in the 15th minute was enough to secure a landmark victory in the UEFA Europa League.
The match was billed as one of the biggest in The Nomads’ 70 year history, and is also a landmark game as The Nomads’ first competitive game on the continent. The venue for the game was the 12,000 capacity Fredrikstadion, which held the match due to Stabaek’s Nadderud Stadium being unable to hold European games.
After a 0-0 draw in the first leg, The Nomads went into the game full of positivity off the back of a strong home performance. Two Nomads goals were disallowed within the first 10 minutes of first leg match, before Michael Wilde missed a great opportunity to score in a one-on-one run at goalkeeper Mande Sayouba.
Whilst The Nomads had a week’s preparation for the fixture, Stabaek had hosted Sogndal in the Norwegian Tippeligaen and lost 1-0 thanks to a strike from Ghanaian international Otoo in the 73rd minute.
The Nomads started an unchanged side from the first leg, with Michael Wilde leading the line once again. The bench was similar to The Nomads’ home leg also, the only change being Sean Smith in for Paul Linwood.
The game began and the professionals, Stabaek, were eager to inflict themselves on The Nomads’ goalmouth. Ohi Kwoeme sent a cutting pass across The Nomads’ area in the sixth minute, but no Stabaek player connected with it and the chance ended with a goal kick.
After the home side threatened with a free kick from 25 yards , Jeppe Arctander Moe and Ernest Asante enjoyed chances during a period of early Stabaek pressure.
Against the run of play, The Nomads’ first European goal followed in the 15th minute. Danby sent a long ball upfield, which was flicked between the likes of Ian Kearney and Michael Wilde for the ball to land in front of Callum Morris, who coolly slotted the ball in from eight yards to give The Nomads a shock lead.
The goal gave The Nomads a boost in confidence and the crowd of 384 began to see an extremely disciplined performance from the Welsh side. Lewis Short was instrumental in a solid defensive live, denying Issah and Kwoeme entry into his area in the 25th minute.
Despite Stabaek’s attacking efforts they could not break the Nomads, with Martin Skjonsberg sending a ball floating into the area and out for a goal kick before Grossman had a shot blocked from 18 yards followed by Danby dealing with a powerful effort from Njie.
Nathan Woolfe went on a great run into the Stabaek area in the 39th minute but was brought down and booked as a result, referee Laurent Kopriwa deeming it simulation.
The first half came to an end at a frantic pace, with Stabaek’s pressure initating some valiant defending from Nomads. Naess saw a 20 yard effort sail wide, before Jay Owen and Callum Morris made a vital tackle and block in the area.
The half ended and Nomads went in with a deserved lead but knew a significant performance in the second half was compulsory to keep Stabaek at bay and secure European glory.
At the start of the second half Nomads again defended solidly, with Harrison blocking an effort from Moe in a packed Nomads area. A major incident followed in the 50th minute, when after a Wilde challenge, tempers flared between the teams which saw Kamal Issah sent off for his part in the action.
Down to ten men, the pressure was on Stabaek but they remained unsuccessful in breaking down Nomads, with a ball from Meling into the away area easily handled by John Danby.
John Disney then came off for summer signing Matty Owen, who made his competitive debut for the club on the Europa League stage. He got straight into the game, winning a free kick for Nomads on the halfway line on 69 minutes.
Stabaek again threatened with Asante using his pace to cut into the Nomads area and pass to Kwoeme, who shot wide in one of the Norwegian’s best chances of the game.
A bizarre instance followed in the 78th minute when John Disney was shown a second yellow on the sidelines for breaching Europa League regulations during his cool down. This meant despite having a player sent off, Nomads still had 11 players on the pitch.
Andy Morrison then made his remaining substitutions with Sean Smith and Les Davies replacing Nathan Woolfe and Michael Wilde. During the last few minutes of normal time Nomads maintained their solid performance, whilst the pressure was on for Stabaek, seen when goalkeeper Sayouba travelled so far up the pitch with the ball he nearly reached the Nomads area.
With the 90 minutes up, the fourth official indicated a minimum of five minutes added time, adding great tension to the Fredrikstadion’s atmosphere. Baynes intercepted Stabaek in their own half but couldn’t retain possession, and Stabaek’s Kwoeme sent a header towards goal where Danby dealt with it easily.
Full time was then confirmed and the Nomads contingency were sent into raptures at the spectacular victory, which had seen a relatively new part time team earn a deserved win against full time professionals.
The result is the club’s inaugural European victory on their first ever European campaign. With Bala Town and Llandudno FC exiting the competition at the hands of AIK Stockholm and IFK Goteburg, gap Connah’s Quay are now the sole representatives of Wales in the Europa League.
The Nomads will now face FK Vojvodina in the second qualifying round of the competition, with the away and home legs on the 14th and 21st of July respectively.
Match report by Will Catterall
1. John Danby
20. Wes Baynes
4. Ian Kearney
5. George Horan
21. Lewis Short
6. Danny Harrison
8. Callum Morris
18. Jay Owen
2. John Disney
16. Nathan Woolfe
22. Michael Wilde
28. Jon Rushton
9. Ashley Ruane
10. Les Davies
11. Nick Rushton
15. Sean Smith
19. Matty Owen
26. Ben Nash
The Nomads' Goalscorers