The New Saints ready to make more Euro history
8 July 2019

The New Saints ready to make more Euro history

JD Welsh Premier League champions The New Saints take on FK Feronikeli at Park Hall in the UEFA Champions League 1st Qualifying Round on Tuesday, 9 July (7pm) in what will be their 21st European campaign.

The Kosovan champions progressed through the Preliminary Round with victories over Lincoln Red Imps of Gibraltar and FC Santa Coloma of Andorra to setup the tie against Scott Ruscoe's side.

The New Saints have strengthened their squad ahead of their latest European campaign with the arrival of defensive pairing Keston Davies and Adam Hughes, and both are expected to make their competitive debuts for the club on the biggest stage of all. 

Meanwhile, friendlies against JD Welsh Premier League rivals and UEFA Europa League qualifiers Barry Town United and Cardiff Met have formed part of their preparations, while a final friendly against Scottish giants Rangers in Glasgow last Tuesday completed the pre-European programme.

In addition, Ruscoe has already travelled to Kosovo to take a closer look at their opponents ahead of what should be another memorable occasion, and no stone has been left unturned.

The New Saints made their first appearance on the continent back in 1996/97 having qualified for the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup with a famous penalty shoot-out victory over Barry Town in the Welsh Cup Final.

Now veterans of 20 European campaigns, The New Saints have firmly established themselves on the European football map. Here's a look back at five important European ties, ranging from early defeats and high-profile opposition, to more recent famous victories.

Llansantffraid v Ruch Chorzow – UEFA Cup Winners' Cup – 1996/97

Under their former name of Llansantffraid, the side made their European debut at Wrexham's Racecourse with just over 1,500 in attendance, and gained a credible 1-1 draw against Polish outfit Ruch Chorzow through an 83rd minute equaliser that was credited to away defender Dariusz Gesior as an own goal.

"We will go to Poland in two weeks' time with all guns blazing for the second leg,” said an elated manager Graham Breeze. However, a 5-0 reverse in the return match resulted in a 6-1 aggregate defeat.

Manchester City v Total Network Solutions – UEFA Cup – 2003/04

The first competitive match to be played at what is the current home of Manchester City saw Total Network Solutions take on Kevin Keegan's side in the UEFA Cup.

A convincing 5-0 win for the home side followed through goals from Trevor Sinclair, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Sun Jihai, David Sommeil and Nicolas Anelka.

“We've conceded some daft goals but that's why my players are at the level that they are,” said a despondent Ken McKenna after the match.

The return fixture was played at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, with City claiming a 2-0 victory to increase their overall advantage.

Liverpool v Total Network Solutions – UEFA Champions League – 2005/06

Following the heroics of Istanbul, UEFA Champions League holders Liverpool were given special dispensation to retain their trophy having failed to qualify through their league position, which meant entering at the 1st Qualifying Round stage.

Total Network Solutions were handed the dream draw, and headed to a packed Anfield where a hat-trick from captain Steven Gerrard proved to be the difference in a 3-0 win.

Gerrard scored a brace in the return match at the Racecourse, while current manager Scott Ruscoe played every minute in both games.

“The highlight of my European football career has to be playing against Liverpool,” said Ruscoe in 2014. “As a Liverpool supporter, it really was something special.”

Bohemians v Total Network Solutions – UEFA Champions League – 2010/11

Despite a frustrating 1-0 defeat away from home in the opening match, The New Saints put on a famous performance in the return match in front over 1,000 fans at Park Hall to score four without reply and progress to the next round for the first time in their history.

Craig Jones, Matty Williams and Chris Sharp all scored inside the opening 20 minutes, with Williams adding another in the second half to complete the scoring.

Defeated by Belgian giants Anderlecht in the next round, the side dropped into the UEFA Europa League play-offs, where they held CSKA Sofia to a 2-2 draw, but narrowly missed out on a group stage place.

The New Saints v Shkendija – UEFA Champions League – 2018/19

A convincing 5-0 reverse in Macedonia in the 1st leg suggested the tie was already over, but The New Saints came incredibly close to completing one of the greatest comebacks in UEFA Champions League history when the two sides met again at Park Hall a week later.

Goals from Dean Ebbe, Danny Redmond, Ben Cabango and Kurtis Byrne put Ruscoe's side within a goal of taking the match to extra-time, but the 4-0 victory was not enough to extend their stay in the competition.

The New Saints went onto compete in the UEFA Europa League, defeating Lincoln Red Imps before the campaign ended against Danish outfit Midtjylland at the Cardiff City Stadium.