1 - 0
FK Vojvodina vs Connah's Quay Nomads
UEFA Europa League
Thursday 14th July 2016 | 8:00pm
Karađorđe Stadium, Novi Sad, Serbia | Attendance: 4276
Thursday night saw The Nomads lost by one goal to nil to FK Vojvodina in their Europa League second qualifying round first leg. An 86th minute goal from Aleksandar Palocevic was enough to secure victory for Vojvodina on the night.
The tie was The Nomads’ reward for a stunning European victory over Stabaek in which they beat the full time Norwegians 1-0 over two legs. This was a record breaking result for Welsh Football and it was the first time a Welsh side had kept a clean sheet over two legs in Europe, and brought The Nomads’ to over 400 competitive minutes played without conceding a goal.
Their opponents, FK Vojvodina, had beaten FK Bokelj of Montenegro 6-1 to meet The Nomads at their Karadorde stadium, which holds 14,000. Based in Novi Sad, the club is more than 100 years old and unlike Nomads have a wealth of European experience, most recently defeating Sampdoria in the third qualifying round of 2015/16.
Manager Andy Morrison announced a similar starting line up to the previous week’s clash with Stabaek, but with Sean Smith in the line up and Paul Linwood on the bench, with John Disney suspended after receiving a second yellow card in Norway.
The game began and FK Vojvodina immediately put pressure on The Nomads.
Vojvodina’s Antic proved a force through his surging runs into the area and their star man, Trujic, threatened in the third minute when he sent a dangerous cross in the area, however no home player could connect with it.
Vojvodina dominated possession during the first half and in the whole game, with chances from Puskaric in the eighth minute before Trujic scored a goal in the 15th minute only for it to be ruled offside.
Trujic, eager to get his side ahead, then enjoyed a great chance when he shot from around eight yards out only for Danby to produce a great save denying him. This was the one of many great saves during the Nomads keeper’s outstanding performance in Novi Sad.
The home side’s onslaught of attacks continued, with Puskaric, Malbasic and Trujic all hitting the post in some nail biting moments for The Nomads. Despite this, half time came and the game was goalless due to a great defensive display from the away side.
The second half began and it was soon clear that Vojvodina would continue to press The Nomads throughout the half, winning a corner straight away which was cleared by Callum Morris. John Danby saved a Babic effort in the 53rd minute from just eight yards out.
Nathan Woolfe and Jay Owen both intercepted Vojvodina at vital moments, before Wes Baynes spectacularly cleared the ball from The Nomads goal mouth with a header to deny the Serbian hosts the lead.
With one hour played, Vojvodina had had 15 shots on target but The Nomads remained resilient in the face of their pacy and skilful attacks. Maksimovic sent a shot well wide from 20 yards before Kearney and Smith marshalled their area well to prevent any further shots on goal.
Les Davies replaced Michael Wilde and with 10 minutes to go and it began to feel as if The Nomads’ defensive performance had paid off. However, with just four minutes of normal time to play, Aleksander Palocevic scored with a deflected looping effort after a series of attempted crosses into The Nomads' area.
This sucker punch style blow did not effect The Nomads for the remainder of the game as they stayed focus on preventing Vojvodina adding to the scoreline.
Russian referee Alexey Nikolaev signalled for the full time and The Nomads reflected on a tough result which did not fully reflect a valiant defensive performance against a full time professional side on their home turf.
Following the game, manager Andy Morrison said "I'm very proud, extremely proud of the lads - it's an 86th minute deflected shot, Smudge [Smith] has got across and he's got a block on it and it's looped over John [Danby], and to be fair that was the only way they were going to beat John Danby tonight - he kept us in the game on numerous occassions - we knew it was going to be difficult, didn't know it was going to be that difficult - they are an exceptional team."
You can listen to Morrison's full post match interview below.
With just one goal separating the sides and no away goals scored, the tie remains very much alive and will be decided on July 21 at Rhyl FC, for a 6:45pm kick off.
Match report by Will Catterall
1. John Danby
20. Wes Baynes
5. George Horan
4. Ian Kearney
15. Sean Smith
6. Danny Harrison
16. Nathan Woolfe
8. Callum Morris
18. Jay Owen
21. Lewis Short
22. Michael Wilde
28. Jon Rushton
3. Paul Linwood
9. Ashley Ruane
10. Les Davies
11. Nick Rushton
19. Matty Owen
26. Ben Nash
FK Vojvodina's Scorers