EURO FOCUS PART I: OUR FIRST TASTE OF EUROPE AGAINST STABAEK



Date Published: Tuesday, 24th March, 2020 - 4:00pm by Nik Mesney


Over the next few weeks we will take a look back at some of our matches in European competition along with the fortunes of our opposition since we faced them with our first focus being on Norwegian side Stabæk.

Our home tie with Stabæk was a brand new experience for all of us at the club with it being our first ever European game. The new experiences of hosting an away team under UEFA ruling was one that came with a quick learning curve. Behind the scenes, many things go on that get taken for granted on a matchday, but a number of things were required that had never been undertaken before at the club.

The Draw
Firstly, we had to attend the draw at UEFA Headquarters in Nyon, just outside Geneva in Switzerland which saw Andy Morrison, Trevor Green and Nik Mesney all head to the home of european football along with delegates from all the other teams in the first and second qualifying round draws.

The Europa League draw at UEFA Headquarters | © NCM Media

Once we knew who we were playing, we were left with the unenviable task of needing UEFA intervention in terms of who was playing at home and at which time. Due to numerous Welsh teams sharing Rhyl as their home ground and opposition elsewhere not allowed to travel on the same days, we were left waiting until the offices virtually closed their doors for the day to find out that we would host Stabæk first at Rhyl before heading to Norway the following week.

The preparation
Behind the scenes, many things were going on to ensure the smooth running of our first ever European game and this is potentially something that a lot of fans may not realise goes on at every UEFA officiated game. We were required to help organise accommodation and transport for the opposition team along with hosting a MD-1 (matchday minus one) training session at Rhyl's ground. The opposition teams at this stage can ask for anything they wish in terms of drinks, ice, food, snacks and we have to oblige, however we are not allowed to have any playing staff present at the ground which, given the overall size of our club in comparison to many of the club's we have faced in Europe can sometimes provide somewhat of a problem due to the nature of everyone doing multiple jobs at the club.

For the first time ever, we printed tickets along with our match programmes - we were also required by UEFA to provide lanyards for the game to confirm who was allowed to go where at the game including things such as Access All Areas, Media, Staff etc...

Pre-match
On the day of the game, delegates from both clubs along with emergency services personnel are all required to meet at the stadium with the UEFA Delegate and Fourth Official to undertake the matchday meeting to ensure that everything about the game runs smoothly - this includes everyone agreeing on a variety of aspects of the game including pitch watering, turnstiles, media attendance, kit colours and a variety of other information relating to the game.

The Nomads' pennant ahead of kick off | © NCM Media

Following this, it is then the home team's duty to entertain the opposition delegates along with the UEFA delegate at a meal where gifts are exchanged.

After that, it's game on!

The match
The match itself saw a solid performance from The Nomads and within the first few minutes of the game our intent was set with Mike Wilde bundling the ball into the net following a George Horan flick on, only for the referee to rule out the goal due to a foul on Stabæ'sk Indian goalkeeper, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu. A few minutes later, Wilde again had the ball in the net only to see his header ruled out for offside.

George Horan flicks a header towards goal | © NCM Media

Again it was a header in the box, this time from Callum Morris which caused trouble at the back for Stabæk, with it just landing over the bar and towards the end of the first half it was the end of the game for the Norwegian side's Indian international goalkeeper who left the game with a suspected broken hand.

While Stabæk kept posession well, they rarely tested John Danby in The Nomads' goal while Morris again headed over from close range as the newly introduced Ivorian international goalkeeper Sayouba Mande. Just before the half was out, George Horan agonisingly stretched for a ball inside the box but missed by inches. One of Stabæk's only chances of the half came from 35 yards when Kamaal Issah struck high and wide.

The second half was a half of much fewer chances for either side, but the chance of the half and of the game fell to Mike Wilde who managed to make his way through on goal, only for the ball to get stuck under his feet, allowing Mande in the Stabæk goal to close him down and prevent a goal. The Norwegian's did get the ball in The Nomads' net late on in the game but it was ruled out for offside earlier in play.

Mike Wilde is denied late in the second half | © NCM Media The game came to a close with the scoreline of 0-0, and whilst ahead of the game a 0-0 might have seemed like a good result against a full time team in the middle of their season, the majority of players, staff and fans in attendance felt that it was a game The Nomads probably should have won.

We would only have to wait a week to taste that victory however!

Full highlights from the game are below;

Mike Wilde is denied late on | © NCM Media