3 - 0
HJK Helsinki vs Connah's Quay Nomads
UEFA Europa League
Thursday 6th July 2017 | 7:00pm
Telia 5G Areena, Helsinki, Finland | Attendance: 6103
Connah’s Quay Nomads were eliminated from the UEFA Europa League after a 3-0 defeat against Finnish side, HJK Helsinki on Thursday.
An early strike from Moshtagh Yaghoubi and brace from Akseli Pelvas cancelled out Nathan Woolfe’s goal in the first leg of the first round qualifier, sending the Finnish side through to the second round, 3-1 on aggregate.
The Nomads went into the game full of confidence thanks to their historic 1-0 first leg win, but knew a significant challenge was ahead against top of the league HJK Helsinki in the 10,000 capacity Telia 5G Areena.
Andy Morrison was again suspended for the game, meaning that assistant manager Jay Catton would again take charge of an unchanged line up from the first leg.
The game began and The Nomads stood up to an attacking HJK side who were eager to cancel out The Nomads’ first leg victory. After an even first 10 minutes, Helsinki took the lead and equalised on aggregate in the 11th minute.
When a free kick was given to HJK around 30 yards from the Nomads’ goal, Yaghoubi sent a well placed effort towards the top right corner of the goal. The Nomads’ keeper John Danby originally caught the shot, but the ball slipped out of his grasp and went in to send HJK 1-0 up.
Despite trailing, The Nomads had everything to play for with the score level once again. As in the first leg, HJK dominated the possession, but The Nomads still threatened with Michael Wilde and Declan Poole looking to get into the HJK area.
The competition spilled over in the 26th minute, when pushing between both sides broke out after a challenge from Danny Harrison, who was shown a yellow card.
HJK doubled their lead in the 31st minute, when Pelvas exploded into The Nomads' area with a run and finish into the bottom left of The Nomads' goal from 12 yards.
The Nomads now trailed on aggregate, but needed just one goal to go level and regain the advantage via the away goal.
Michael Wilde broke through into the HJK half on 35 minutes, attempting a lob shot with goalkeeper Dahne off his line, but Wilde's shot sailed wide of the goal.
In the second half, HJK were eager to extend their lead, with Mike Pearson blocking two efforts from forward Ousman Jallow inside the first five minutes after the restart.
Kai Edwards struck an early Nomads chance when he sent a powerful shot towards the HJK goal from 12 yards, but the shot was blocked on its route to goal.
Th Nomads were left to rue misfortune and errors again after their third goal, when John Danby saved a shot on goal seing the ball bounce back off him and fell to Pelvas just five yards from The Nomads’ goal line, allowing the HJK man to tap in his second goal of the game.
This goal meant The Nomads had to score two goals to stay in the tie against a confident Helsinki side and home fans who sensed a European victory for their team.
The Nomads made a change, introducing Ryan Wignall in place of Declan Poole.
Wignall saw a good chance go amiss in the 68th minute, when a cross came to him directly in front of the HJK goal only for his shot to slice and go safely to keeper Dahne.
A second substitution saw Jake Phillips make his competitive debut for The Nomads, replacing Jay Owen. Phillips’ long throw in’ threatened the HJK area, but the home side cleared the set piece away.
As the game went on, The Nomads’ chances of getting back into the game were fast reducing, and although they forced a number of corners inside the last 15 minutes, HJK stifled The Nomads of any clear goal scoring opportunities.
The Finnish giants could have had a fourth goal on the night if not for a good save from John Danby, who denied substitute Evans Mensah at a tight angle from close range.
The Nomads’ final substitution saw Callum Morris make way for Matty Williams, who contributed to The Nomads efforts to force an unlikely comeback.
Despite a firm display of never say die attitude, The Nomads were forced to accept their fate after three minutes of injury time when their 3-1 defeat on aggregate was confirmed.
The result is a disappointing but unashamed result for Nomads, as HJK Helsinki’s previous encounter with a Welsh Premier League side was a 13-0 aggregate victory over Bangor City.
The Nomads will now move onto preparation for the 2017/18 Welsh Premier League season which starts with a friendly against Airbus UK Broughton FC on 22nd July at the Hollingsworth Bros Stadium.
Match report by Will Catterall
1. John Danby
3. Kai Edwards
5. George Horan
2. Mike Pearson
15. Sean Smith
6. Danny Harrison
12. Declan Poole
8. Callum Morris
16. Jay Owen
11. Nathan Woolfe
9. Michael Wilde
28. Jon Rushton
7. Ryan Wignall
10. Matty Williams
14. Matty Owen
18. Joe Heath
19. Jake Phillips
66. Conor Harwood
HJK Helsinki's Scorers