Was Connah’s Quay Nomads‘ sensational win at SPL outfit Kilmarnock last night the best-ever result for a Welsh Premier side in Europe?
All things considered, we think it probably is.
Since League of Wales clubs entered European competition for the first time in 1993-94 they have suffered many heavy beatings.
Overall, from 248 Euro matches, the WPL have managed only 39 victories – a win-ratio of just 15.73%.
As a result, Wales’ association ranking among the 55 Uefa counties has remained low – around the 50 mark.
However, amidst the gloom, there have been some fantastic results.
And since Nomads qualified for Europe for the first time in 2016-17, they have achieved some outstanding feats.
Their very first tie saw them edge out Norwegians Stabaek 1-0 on aggregate, becoming in the process the first WPL team to maintain a clean sheet over two legs since Barry Town defeated FC Shamkir of Azerbaijan 2-0 and 1-0 in 2001/02.
In 2018-19, Andy Morrison’s side sensationally beat Finnish giants HJK 1-0 at “home”, only to lose the away leg 3-0.
However, the turning around of a 2-1 home loss to beat Kilmarnock 2-0 at a fervent Rugby Park has to rank as their best result so far.
While the individual results against Stabaek and HJK were tremendous, they reversed a losing situation versus Killie against massive odds.
Past wins for Llanelli and Barry Town against Dinamo Tbilisi and Porto were huge, but the Welsh sides lost the away legs heavily.
TNS recorded massive 4-0 wins over Bohemian and Shkendija, but neither were strong as Kilmarnock.
Next up for Morrison’s marauders are Serbia’s Partizan Belgrade.
A win over that crack outfit in either leg and we will be re-writing this feature again.
Here is our top 10 all-time best results for Welsh Premier clubs in Europe.
1 KILMARNOCK 0 CONNAH’S QUAY NOMADS 2 (2019/20)
The new number one when it comes to Welsh Premier League victories in Europe.
Having lost the first leg of this Europa League tie 2-1 at Rhyl the previous week, Nomads travelled to Ayrshire as rank outsiders to knock out the team which finished third in the Scottish Premier League last season.
Yet after riding their luck in the first half at Rugby Park, with keeper Lewis Brass outstanding, Andy Morrison’s men disrupted Killie’s flow in the second period and took a surprise lead through a Ryan Wignall’s 50th-minute header.
Then on 79 minutes, Nomads substitute Jamie Insall raced into the box and was hauled down by Stuart Findlay. The home player was red carded and Callum Morris made it 2-0 from the spot.
Despite late pressure from the hosts, and the sending off of Wignall, last season’s Welsh Premier runners-up held on for a famous win to secure a second qualifying round tie with Partizan Belgrade.
2 LLANELLI 2 DINAMO TBILISI 1 (2011/12)
Welsh Cup winners Llanelli claimed a notable scalp by defeating mighty Georgians Tbilisi in the first leg of this Europa League second qualifying round tussle at Parc-y-Scarlets.
Despite being without prolific marksman Rhys Griffiths, a Jordan Follows double sank the 1981 Cup Winners’ Cup champions.
Llanelli lost the return 5-0 in the Boris Paichadze National Stadium, but to enter the second leg with a lead against opponents of such fine stature was a magnificent achievement.
3 BARRY TOWN 3 FC PORTO 1 (2001/02)
This would be No 1 but for the fact Barry were already 8-0 down from the first leg of this Champions League clash.
Would Porto still have lost had they needed a big result in Wales? Debatable.
For the second instalment at Jenner Park, Porto made wholesale changes and left out all their scorers from the first game, but still fielded a team packed with international talent.
Barry produced a superb display to win 3-1 thanks to goals from Lee Phillips, Mike Flynn and Gary Lloyd (penalty). Two years later, Porto won the Champions League.
4 CONNAH’S QUAY NOMADS 1 HJK HELSINKI 0 (2018/19)
Nathan Woolfe was Nomads’ hero as they upset the odds in the first leg of this Europa League first qualifying round against the mighty Finns.
Helsinki went into the game at Nantporth, Bangor, leading Finland’s Veikkausliga with one loss in 16 games having netted 18 goals in their last five wins.
But after Woolfe’s cross-shot put Nomads ahead just before half-time, the visitors could find no way through against Andy Morrison’s side.
A massive upset, but the Quay lost the second leg 3-0.
5 STABAEK 0 GAP CONNAH’S QUAY 1 (2016/17)
Andy Morrison’s men became only the third WPL side to win a European tie at the first attempt, and it came at the expense of full-time opponents from a country with a UEFA Club Coefficient of 26 compared with Wales’ 50.
Nomads also became the first Welsh Premier side ever to keep a clean sheet over two legs in Europe.
Callum Morris‘ first-half goal secured him a place in club folklore and ensured the Deesiders edged out their Norwegian opponents 1-0 on aggregate, the first leg having finished 0-0.
6 THE NEW SAINTS 4 BOHEMIAN 0 (2010/11)
Saints became only the second WPL club to win a Champions League tie (after Barry Town) with a crushing 4-0 defeat of Irish champions Bohemian at Park Hall.
Having won just one of their previous 21 European outings, this result was especially satisfying for the Oswestry full-timers against their Dublin visitors, who had looked so ruthless in dumping Rhyl out of the Inter-Toto Cup two seasons earlier.
Matty Williams (2), Craig Jones and Chris Sharp did the damage for the WPL hopefuls, who had lost the first leg 1-0 in the Irish capital.
7 THE NEW SAINTS 4 KF SHKENDIJA 0 (2018/19)
Trailing 5-0 from the first leg in Macedonia, no-one gave Saints a prayer of progressing at home – yet the impossible almost happened.
The second leg at Park Hall couldn’t have been more different, with TNS picking up a stunning 4-0 win.
Dean Ebbe opened the scoring with 15 minutes gone, before two goals in five minutes from Danny Redmond and Ben Cabango had Saints leading 3-0 at the break.
There were countless chances for more goals in the second-half, but a fourth goal in the sixth minute of stoppage time by Kurtis Byrne wasn’t enough to turn the tie around, meaning the greatest ever Champions League comeback fell just short.
8 SK LIEPAJAS METALURGS 1 PRESTATYN TOWN 2 (2013/14)
In their very first European tie, Prestatyn achieved what many thought was mission impossible by overturning a 2-1 first leg deficit, winning by the same score in Latvia to force extra time before executing a 4-3 penalty shoot-out triumph.
When the Virsliga side took a first half lead in this Europa League second leg battle they were 3-1 up on aggregate and appeared certs to progress, but the Seasiders rallied in typical style to level through late goals from Ross Stephens and player-boss Neil Gibson.
The quality of Prestatyn’s penalties, and the celebration scenes which followed, will long live in the memory.
9 BARRY TOWN 3 BUDAPEST VASUTAS SC 1 (1996/97)
Barry had already created history by becoming the first LoW club to win a European tie before coming up against the Hungarians in this Uefa Cup stormer.
Having lost the away leg 3-1, the odds were stacked against the Welsh side, yet they fought back valiantly to level the argument with goals from Chris Pike (pen), Dave O’Gorman and Craig Evans.
It remained 4-4 overall after extra time and Town held their nerve to win 4-2 on penalties.
10 BANGOR CITY 2 FC HONKA 1 (2010/11)
No City fan who was at the Racecourse on this electric night will ever forget it.
Having earned an excellent 1-1 draw on an artificial surface in Finland, Bangor looked to be heading out of this Europa League tussle when they trailed 1-0 at Wrexham with five minutes left.
But ex-Manchester City defender Dave Morley plundered an 88th minute equaliser before the ruthless Blues snatched a dramatic added time winner through Chris Jones.
WELSH PREMIER LEAGUE CLUBS TOTAL MATCH RECORD IN EUROPE (1993-2019)
(up to and including Kilmarnock 0 Connah’s Quay 2 game on July 18, 2019)
WON 39 (15.73%)
GOALS FOR 180
GOALS AGAINST 614
PLAYED 58 WON 15 DRAWN 6 LOST 37 GOALS FOR 53 GOALS AGAINST 141
PLAYED 66 WON 8 DRAWN 6 LOST 52 GOALS FOR 40 GOALS AGAINST 178
CUP WINNERS’ CUP
PLAYED 8 WON 0 DRAWN 1 LOST 7 GOALS FOR 3 GOALS AGAINST 28
PLAYED 34 WON 1 DRAWN 6 LOST 27 GOALS FOR 21 GOALS AGAINST 95
PLAYED 82 WON 15 DRAWN 15 LOST 52 GOALS FOR 63 GOALS AGAINST 172
MOST GAME WINS:
11 – The New Saints
6 – Barry Town
5 – Llanelli
3 – Connah’s Quay, Bala Town
2 – Bangor City, Rhyl, Newtown
1 – Carmarthen Town, Cwmbran Town, Inter Cardiff/Cable Tel, Prestatyn Town, Cardiff Met
MOST TIE WINS:
7 – The New Saints
3 – Barry Town
2 – Connah’s Quay Nomads
1 – Carmarthen Town, Bangor City, Rhyl, Llanelli, Newtown, Prestatyn Town