Since Connah’s Quay Nomads pulled off a magnificent 2-0 victory at SPL giants Kilmarnock last night to reach the Europa League second qualifying round, fans across the country have been asking the question – was it the greatest win in Europe ever by a Welsh Premier team?
Well, since League of Wales clubs began entering European competitions back in 1993/94, we have managed just 39 wins in 248 matches.
Those victories have been split between 13 WPL teams, The New Saints recording the most wins with 11.
As there aren’t too many of them, we thought we’d take a look at every WPL match win in Europe over the past 26 years and leave you to decide which one is the greatest?
1) Cwmbran Town 3-2 Cork City (CHAMPIONS LEAGUE)
Tony Wilcox’s Cwmbran ensured the first-ever game involving a Welsh side in the recently newly-named Champions League was a winning one as they pipped League of Ireland title winners Cork 3-2 at Cwmbran Stadium.
Simon King (pen) and Francis Ford (2) put the inaugural League of Wales champions 3-0 up nside half an hour before the visitors hit back with two goals before the end.
Cwmbran lost the return 2-1 in Ireland and went out on away goals.
2) Barry Town 2-1 FC Dinaburg (UEFA CUP)
Goals from Chris Pike and Craig Evans earned Barry a 2-1 home success against Latvia’s Dinaburg in the second leg of this Uefa Cup tie.
Having drawn the first game 0-0, Town progressed to the next stage.
3) Barry Town 3-1 Budapest Vasutas (UC)
Having lost the first leg 3-1 in Hungary, Barry were up against it, but Pike, Evans and Dave O’Gorman found the net to lead them to a photostat win in Jenner Park to make it 4-4 on aggregate.
It came down to penalties – and the Welsh champions prevailed.
4) Inter Cardiff 1-0 NK Gorica (UC)
Trailing 2-0 from the first leg, Carl Mainwaring’s spectacular 25-yard shot in the 57th minute gave Inter victory on the night, but they could not break the resistance of their Slovenian visitors again.
5) Barry Town 2-0 FC Shamkir (CL)
6) FC Shamkir 0-1 Barry Town (CL)
Barry became the first League of Wales club to win both legs of a European tie when they saw off Azerbaijan’s Shamkir 2-0 and 1-0 in the Champions League.
Andrew York and Jon French delivered the home goals for the LoW champions and Lee Phillips netted in the away game.
7) Barry Town 3-1 FC Porto (CL)
An amazing result for Barry was somewhat dampened by the fact they lost the opening leg in Portugal 8-0.
Porto left out some key players for the return at Jenner Park, but still fielded a side packed with international talent.
Nonetheless, Barry triumphed 3-1 with goals from Phillips, Mike Flynn and Gary Lloyd (pen).
8) Bangor City 1-0 Sartid Smederevo (UC)
City’s then manager Peter Davenport believes his team’s win over the Yugoslavs at Farrar Road belongs in the top 10 Welsh Premier all-time results in Europe.
Paul Roberts’ super-strike in the 69th minute handed the Citizens a slim lead going into the second leg, which they sadly lost 2-0.
9) Barry Town 2-1 FK Vardar (CL)
This was to be Barry’s last game in Europe after the wheels fell off at Jenner Park.
Having been beaten 3-0 in the first leg in Macedonia, goals from Lee Jarman and Jamie Moralee secured the WPL side a consolation home win.
10) Carmarthen Town 5-1 Longford Town (UC)
This remains the biggest win for a Welsh Premier club in Europe.
Mark Jones’ side lost 2-0 in Ireland and when it was 1-1 at half time in the return at Richmond Park, the tie looked over.
However, the Old Gold came out all guns blazing in the second half, four goals putting them through 5-3 on aggregate, Danny Thomas (2), Gary Lloyd (2, 1 pen) and Nathan Cotterall turning the tables.
11) Rhyl 2-1 FT Atlantas (UC)
Lee Hunt’s double ensured Rhyl celebrated their first win in Europe at the expense of Lithuanians Atlantas.
Although they lost the return 3-2, the Lilywhites progressed on away goals and became – at the time – only the second WPL club to win a European tie. Carmarthen became the third a few hours later.
12) Gefle IF 1-2 Llanelli (UC)
A first-ever game in Europe for Llanelli produced a win as Rhys Griffiths and Jacob Mingorance sealed a 2-1 result in Sweden. The second leg ended 0-0 so Llanelli advanced.
13) Llanelli 5-3 FK Vetra (INTER-TOTO CUP)
Rhys Griffiths became the first WPL player to net a hat-trick in Europe as Llanelli defeated Lithuanians Vetra 5-3 at Richmond Park.
Wyn Thomas and a Stanislav Kozyrev own goal made up the home five, but as the South Wales Reds had lost 3-1 away, Vetra advanced on away goals.
The 5-3 result for Llanelli remains the Welsh Premier’s only win in the short-lived Inter-Toto Cup in 34 matches. I’m sure they are besides themselves with joy over that fact.
14) The New Saints 3-2 FK Ventspils (CL)
An historic first win in Europe for TNS as they pipped Ventspils of Latvia 3-2 at Latham Park, Michael Wilde, Phil Baker and Barry Hogan on the mark.
Sadly for Saints, they lost 2-1 away and perished on away goals.
15) Rhyl 3-1 FK Haka (UC)
Andy Moran, Lee Hunt and Craig Garside ensured Rhyl recovered from a goal down to sweep aside their Finnish foes at Belle Vue.
A stunning display from John Hulse’s Lilywhites, but they lost 2-0 in Finland and went out away goals.
16) Llanelli 1-0 FK Ventspils (CL)
Stuart Jones bagged the home winner for Llanelli, but the Reds lost 4-0 away to the Latvians.
17) Motherwell 0-1 Llanelli (EUROPA LEAGUE)
How good was this win compared to Connah’s Quay Nomads’ triumph in Kilmarnock?
Motherwell were in the SPL, like Killie, but had qualified for Europe through the Fair Play initiative, having finished seventh in Scotland’s top league in 2008-09.
And the Scottish press were ruthless after Stuart Jones’ headed goal clinched a win for the WPL visitors, some scribes describing the result as ‘shameful’.
‘Well got things together in the return, winning 3-0.
18) Bangor City 2-1 FC Honka (EL)
Having drawn 1-1 in Finland, City were 1-0 down at the Racecourse before late goals from Dave Morley and Chris Jones completed a remarkable turnaround.
19) The New Saints 4-0 Bohemian (CL)
Magnificent win for the Saints, who were defeated 1-0 in Dublin, but took the League of Ireland champions apart in the second leg with goals from Matty Williams (2), Craig Jones and Chris Sharp.
20) Llanelli 2-1 Dinamo Tbilisi (EL)
Definitely one of the WPL’s most stunning results in European competition as a Jordan Follows double did for the mighty Tbilisi.
The situation was different in Georgia, Tbilisi winning 5-0 for a 6-2 aggregate outcome.
21) Cliftonville 0-1 The New Saints (EL)
TNS could only draw 1-1 at home with their Northern Ireland opponents, but a Phil Baker goal was enough to deliver the full-timers a decisive 1-0 result in Belfast.
22) Bala Town 1-0 FC Levadia (EL)
Bala’s first game in Europe was a winning one.
Entering this match at Rhyl on a fine run of form, Colin Caton’s men defeated their Estonia visitors 1-0 thanks to Ian Sheridan’s net-finder.
Levadia won 3-0 at home to progress.
23) Leipajas Metalurgs 1-2 Prestatyn Town (EL)
In their first-ever venture into Europe, having won the Welsh Cup for the first time in their history the season before, Town created another sensation.
Behind 2-1 from the home leg played at Rhyl, Ross Stephens and Neil Gibson brought the tie level at 3-3 in Latvia. Then the Seasiders produced some brilliant penalties to make back page news!
24) Bala Town 2-1 FC Differdange (EL)
Heartbreak as Bala led 2-0 entering added time at Rhyl and looked set to progress on away goals having been beaten 3-1 in Luxembourg.
Conall Murtagh and Sheridan put the Lakesiders on the verge of progression only for Differdange to strike in the dying stages to pinch the tie.
This must rank as the all-time heartbreaker for Welsh Premier teams in Europe. I was there and it hurt badly.
25) B36 Torshavn 1-2 The New Saints (CL)
26) The New Saints 4-1 B36 Torshavn (CL)
TNS became only the second WPL club to win both legs of a Euro tie after hammering Faroe Islanders Torshavn 6-2 overall, away goals provided by Scott Quigley and Michael Wilde, who then bagged a hat-trick in the home game, Matty Williams adding another.
27) Newtown 2-1 Valletta (EL)
28) Valletta 1-2 Newtown (EL)
In just their third European venture, Newtown also won both legs against Maltese outfit Valletta.
Jason Oswell netted home and away, Luke Boundford also on the mark at Latham Park and Matty Owen striking in Malta.
29) Stabaek 0-1 Connah’s Quay Nomads (EL)
In their first Euro tie, Callum Morris’ goal sent Nomads through at the expense of Norwegians Stabaek, the WPL’s team’s home leg having ended 0-0.
30) The New Saints 2-1 Tre Penne (CL)
31) Tre Penne 0-3 The New Saints (CL)
Saints became the first WPL club to win both legs of a European tie twice as they knocked out San Marino’s Tre Penne.
Scott Quigley and Jamie Mullan secured Saints a 2-1 home win, then Quigley, Aeron Edwards and Greg Draper were on the mark at Stadio Fonte dell’Ovo.
32) Connah’s Quay Nomads 1-0 HJK Helsinki (EL)
Nomads fans were howling with delight after Nathan Woolfe’s goal clinched a sensational success over mighty Finns HJK at Nantporth. Bangor.
Quay later lost 3-0 in Finland, but nonetheless the home result was quite astonishing against a team of such stature and experience in Europe.
33) The New Saints 3-1 Europa (CL)
Having lost 2-1 at home, it did not look too promising for the Welsh champions travelling to Gibraltar, but the green and whites delivered when it mattered, an Ivan Moya own goal and double from Scott Quigley seeing them through.
34) The New Saints 4-0 KF Shkëndija (CL)
Unbelievable stuff as TNS almost produced the mother of all European comebacks.
The WPL title-holders had been whipped 5-0 in Macedonia, yet it was a different tale at Park Hall as the Saints won 4-0 to come so close to a sensation, Dean Ebbe, Danny Redmond, Ben Cabango and Kurtis Byrne on target.
35) The New Saints 2-1 Lincoln Red Imps (EL)
As Champions League losers, TNS were given another chance in the Europa League, and a 2-1 win over opponents which beat Glasgow Celtic 1-0 in the 2016-17 CL helped Scott Ruscoe’s side to a 3-2 aggregate triumph against the Gibraltar team, Dean Ebbe and Blaine Hudson the scorers.
36) Bala Town 1-0 Tre Fiori (EL)
Nathan Burke’s goal earned Bala a win, but having lost the away leg 3-0, the Lakesiders exited the Europa League.
Tre Fiori’s aggregate victory meant they became the first team from San Marino to win a European tie.
It’s great to create history, but not so great to have it created against you.
37) Cardiff Metropolitan 2-1 Progrès Niederkorn (EL)
Not quite to be for the Met, as despite winning on the night through Jordan Lam’s header and a Dylan Rees penalty, the Luxembourg side won overall on away goals.
38) Feronikeli 0-1 The New Saints (CL)
Another fine away win for TNS in Europe as substitute Dean Ebbe’s late strike bagged a 3-2 aggregate victory at the expense of Kosovo’s Feronikeli.
39) Kilmarnock 0-2 Connah’s Quay Nomads (EL)
Saving the best till last?
Nomads were 18-1 with betting outlets to win by any score at Rugby Park and 66-1 to triumph 2-0 and advance to the second qualifying round of the Europa League.
Quay had lost 2-1 at Rhyl to last season’s third-placed team in the Scottish Premier the week before and were rank outsiders travelling to Ayrshire.
But after surviving a few close calls in the opening half, a Ryan Wignall header and Callum Morris penalty earned the Deesiders a phenomenal victory on the evening and in the tie against the odds.
WPL MATCH WINS
(up to and including July 18, 2019)
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
WELSH PREMIER LEAGUE CLUBS TOTAL MATCH RECORD IN EUROPE (1993-2019)
(up to and including July 18, 2019)
Won 39 (15.73%)
Goals for 180
Goals against 614