Save Rhyl FC: Looking back at the Lilywhites’ record in Europe

Rhyl FC celebrate an amazing Uefa Cup success in Lithuania in 2005. Picture: Gareth Hughes

Rhyl FC have played 14 European games in their history and back in 2005 became only the second Welsh Premier League team to win a two-legged tie in Europe.

To this day, only nine WPL sides have achieved the feat: The New Saints (7 ties won), Barry Town (3), Connah’s Quay Nomads (2), 1 each – Carmarthen Town, Bangor City, Rhyl, Llanelli, Newtown, Prestatyn Town.

Here is the Lilywhites’ record in European competitions (plus reports and line-ups)

2004/05 – Uefa Champions League

July 14, 2004
Skonto Riga 4 Rhyl 0
Skonto – with seven players from Latvia’s Euro 2004 squad plus coach Aleksandrs Starkovs – took an early lead though Mihails Miholaps.
Miholaps struck again 11 minutes after half-time with a clever finish from close range, before Ignas Dedura headed in from a corner.
Aleksejs Visnjakovs finished Rhyl off with a run and shot on 78 minutes.
Rhyl showed plenty of spirit to battle back at the Stadionas Skonto and should have equalised when Gary Powell missed from eight yards.
Marc Limbert also went close with a fierce drive on the 20-minute mark, but that was the nearest the Welsh Premier champions came to scoring.
Rhyl: Paul Smith, Mark Powell, James Brewerton (Greg Stones), Michael Jackson (Michael Keegan), Tim Edwards, Robbie Wood (Stuart Graves), Gareth Wilson, Marc Limbert, Lee Atherton, Gary Powell, Chris Adamson.
Att: 1,950

Rhyl’s Tim Edwards and Skonto Riga’s Kalnins Gatis battle for the ball (Photo by Barrington Coombs/EMPICS via Getty Images)

July 21, 2004
Rhyl 1 (G Powell) Skonto Riga 3 (Aggregate 1-7)
Two late goals denied Rhyl a memorable Champions League draw against Skonto Riga at a packed Belle Vue.
Skonto, who led 4-0 after the first leg of the qualifying tie, opened the scoring in first half stoppage time when Igns Dedora struck from a corner.
Gary Powell scored Rhyl’s equaliser – the club’s first goal in Europe – when he slotted home Chris Adamson’s low cross five minutes after the break.
But a brace from Mihails Miholaps on 79 and 88 minutes handed Skonto the win.
Rhyl: Paul Smith, Mark Powell, James Brewerton, Michael Jackson (Greg Stones), Tim Edwards, Robbie Wood (Michael Keegan), Gareth Wilson, Marc Limbert, Gary Powell (Chris McGinn), Lee Atherton, Chris Adamson.
Att: 1,812.

Gary Powell scored Rhyl’s first-ever goal in Europe (Photo by EMPICS Sport – PA Images via Getty Images)

2005/06 – Uefa Cup

July 14, 2005
Rhyl 2 (Hunt 2) FK Atlantas 1

An historic first win for Rhyl in Europe, but their victory at Belle Vue should have been more emphatic.
The Lilywhites struck a vital early blow. Stuart Graves’ corner was met by defender George Horan, and the ball came to Lee Hunt, who gave keeper Arnas Lekevicius no chance.
The hosts had numerous close calls in the second half, Chris Adamson clipping the post and forcing Lekevicus into a fine save, while James Brewerton and Horan headed just off target before the second goal arrived on 70 minutes.
Hunt took Moran’s pass and lifted the ball over Lekevicius.
A minute later Atlantas were reduced to 10 men when Kazimieras Gnedojus collected a second yellow card for a scything tackle on Hunt, and the home side went for the kill.
Almost immediately a thunderous Horan header cannoned off the visitors’ crossbar but in a swift counter-attack the Lithuanians grabbed a life-line in the 77th minute when substitute Rimantas Zvingilis swivelled in the penalty area to hammer the ball past Gerard McGuigan, who had been barely troubled since the break.
The Atlantas keeper again kept his side in the tie with another good save, this time from Greg Stones, before Hunt beat the offside trap late on, only to fire wide.
Rhyl: Gerard McGuigan, Mark Powell, George Horan, James Brewerton, Stuart Graves, Marc Limbert, Gareth Wilson (Gary Powell 86), Greg Stones, Chris Adamson; Lee Hunt (Alan Morgan 86), Andy Moran (Mike Thompson 90).
Att: 1,570

July 28, 2005
FK Atlantas 3 Rhyl 2 (Stones, G Powell) – Aggregate 4-4, Rhyl won on away goals)

Despite being without first-leg double goalscorer Lee Hunt, Rhyl became only the second Welsh Premier side to win a European tie after beating Atlantas on away goals in the Uefa Cup first qualifying round.
The North Walians lost the return leg 3-2 in Lithuania, but Gary Powell’s 60th-minute strike proved crucial.
Atlantas took a 12th-minute lead through a Dainius Zernys penalty, but Greg Stones then brought Rhyl level.
Aivaras Laurisas and Andrius Peterikis struck for the home side after Powell’s goal, but the Lilywhites held on.
The match ended amid ugly scenes as Atlantas manager Vacys Lekevicius raced onto the pitch and clashed with Alan Morgan and goalkeeper Gerald McGuigan in the centre circle.
Rhyl: Gerard McGuigan, Chris Adamson, Mark Powell, George Horan, Greg Stones, James Brewerton, Alan Morgan (Tom Mutton), Gary Powell (Mark Connolly), Stuart Graves, Marc Limbert, Andy Moran.
Att: 1,200.

Aug 11, 2005
Rhyl 0 Viking Stavanger 1

Roy Hodgson’s Norwegians were fortunate to come away from Belle Vue with a 1-0 win.
Rhyl paid the price for not taking their chances against Viking FK who scored the only goal with Peter Kopteff’s first-half free-kick.
Marc Limbert was influential for Rhyl and the home side had an excellent chance after just 50 seconds but Lee Hunt blazed over from close range.
Limbert also had an effort from a free-kick but saw it saved.
After the match, Viking boss Hodgson criticised Rhyl’s tactics.
“They stifled our attacking play and if that’s what they are happy with, then good luck to them,” said Hodgson. “If the ball’s in the air and they’re flying up pushing you it’s dangerous, you’re relying on the referee to spot the fouls. But we dealt with it.”
Hodgson went on to manage Finland, Fulham and Liverpool before becoming England’s boss in 2012.
Rhyl: Gerard McGuigan, Mark Powell, Stuart Graves, George Horan, Greg Stones, James Brewerton, Marc Limbert, Gareth Wilson, Lee Hunt, Andy Moran (Tom Mutton 77), Chris Adamson.
Att: 1,540

Roy Hodgson, then trainer of Viking Stavanger, gave mixed views on Rhyl FC back in 2005. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Aug 25, 2005
Viking Stavanger 2 Rhyl 1 (Adamson) – Aggregate 3-1

Two early goals from Viking’s South African striker Toni Nhleko ended Rhyl’s hopes of advancing from the Uefa Cup second qualifying round.
Trailing 1-0 from the first leg in Belle Vue, Rhyl saw Nhleko strike twice in the opening 25 minutes in Stavanger.
Chris Adamson got one back from the edge of the area after build-up work from Andy Moran and Jamie Brewerton.
The Welsh Premier side pushed hard for an equaliser, but to no avail.
Viking manager Hodgson, who criticised Rhyl’s “stifling tactics” at Belle Vue, had changed his tune by the end of the return clash.
“I give them a lot of credit, they battled right to the end and it was a very tough game,” he said.
Rhyl: Gerard McGuigan, Mark Powell, Stuart Graves, George Horan, Greg Stones, James Brewerton (Chris Taylor 83), Mark Connolly (Tom Mutton 77), Gareth Wilson, Lee Hunt (Gary Powell 83), Andy Moran, Chris Adamson.
Att: 3,857.

2006/07 – Uefa Cup

July 13, 2006
Rhyl 0 FK Suduva 0

Missed chances cost Rhyl a lead in the first leg of this Uefa Cup tussle at Belle Vue.
The best opportunities for John Hulse’s side came in the second half, James Brewerton flashing a header inches wide on 72 minutes before from another free-kick, substitute striker Chris Sharp nodded off target with visiting goalkeeper Gytis Padinauskas stranded.
Rhyl: Paul Whitfield, Mark Powell, James Brewerton, Mark Connolly, George Horan, Tim Edwards, Gareth Wilson, Andy Moran (Alan Rafferty), Lee Hunt (Chris Sharp), Conall Murtagh, Alex Hay.
Att: 1,479.

July 27, 2006
FK Suduva 2 Rhyl 1 (Moran) – aggregate 2-1

This narrow defeat and subsequent exit from Europe for Rhyl in Marijampole was further soured by a broken leg suffered by Chris Sharp, son of former Scotland and Everton striker Graeme.
Defender and captain Timmy Edwards conceded a penalty with a clumsy tackle on 19 minutes and Darius Maciulevicius made no mistake from the spot.
Suduva added a second six minutes later when Tomas Mikuckis headed home.
Andy Moran’s 80th-minute strike gave Rhyl hope of securing the draw needed to go through on away goals, but Suduva kept out their desperate late efforts.
Lee Hunt, Marcus Orlik and Moran had gone close earlier before the striker’s goal from a goalkeeping mistake set up a frantic final 10 minutes.
Rhyl: Paul Whitfield, Mark Powell, Stuart Graves, Mark Connolly, George Horan, Tim Edwards (Alex Hay), Gareth Wilson, Andy Moran, Lee Hunt (Chris Sharp – Marcus Orlik), Conall Murtagh, James Brewerton.
Att: 2,500.

2007/08 – Uefa Cup

Andy Moran scores against Haka at Belle Vue

July 19, 2007
Rhyl 3 (Moran, Hunt, Garside) FC Haka 1

Rhyl appeared to have put one foot in the Uefa Cup second round after what ranks as surely their finest European performance against Finns FC Haka at Belle Vue.
The visitors took the lead after 15 minutes, Mikko Manninen powering 50 yards upfield before releasing Toni Lautinen for a simple finish.
Andy Moran fired the equaliser from an acute angle, and when Haka failed to clear Jimmy Kelly’s free kick, Lee Hunt gave Rhyl the half-time lead.
Hunt’s cross from the left invited the third from debutant Craig Garside.
Rhyl: John Gann, Mark Powell, James Brewerton (Dan Desormeaux), Mark Connolly, George Horan, Carl Ruffer, Craig Garside, Jimmy Kelly, Lee Hunt (Dave Cameron), Andy Moran, Stuart Graves (Chris Roberts)
Att: 1,787.

Aug 2, 2007
FC Haka 2 Rhyl 0 (Aggregate 3-3, Haka won on away goals)

Two goals in two minutes ended Rhyl’s Uefa Cup hopes as they crashed out of the first qualifying round on the away goals rule in Finland.
Leading 3-1 from the first leg, the Welsh Premier side looked comfortable as they reached half-time level.
But Mikko Innanen broke the deadlock with a 25-yard effort on 63 minutes.
Rhyl goalkeeper John Gann was rooted to his spot again a minute later when striker Valeri Popovitch – who missed the first leg through his fear of flying – struck from 18 yards to send the home side through.
Rhyl: John Gann, Mark Powell (Matty Holt), Chris Roberts (Craig Jones), Mark Connolly, George Horan, Carl Ruffer, Craig Garside (Dave Cameron), Jimmy Kelly, Lee Hunt, Andy Moran, Stuart Graves.
Att: 1,565

2008 – Intertoto Cup

June 21, 2008
Bohemian 5 Rhyl 1 (Oman OG)

Rhyl led 1-0 at half time in Dublin, but the hosts battled back after the break to run riot.
In what was the Lilywhites’ first competitive game without the resigned John Hulse at the helm, Allan Bickerstaff was in charge for the Irish test and the visitors went ahead in the 25th minute when Ken Oman deflected Mark Connolly’s effort into his own goal.
Jason Byrne equalised from a free-kick in the 52nd minute, with Owen Heary heading the hosts ahead on the hour
Killian Brennan’s penalty made it 3-1, Neale Feenan added a fourth, before substitute Glen Crowe heaped more misery on the Welsh side.
Rhyl: Lee Kendall, Paul O’Neill, James Brewerton, Mark Connolly, George Horan, Carl Ruffer, Craig Jones (Matthew Holt), Gareth Wilson, Craig Garside (Jimmy Kelly), Marc Lloyd Williams, Chris Roberts (Gary Powell).
Att: 1,342

Bohemians’ Mark Rossiter (right) and Rhyl’s Marc Lloyd Williams battle for the ball. (Photo by Neal Simpson – PA Images via Getty Images)

June 28, 2008
Rhyl 2 (Connolly 2) Bohemian 4 (Aggregate 3-9)

What was effectively already a dead rubber after the first leg was certainly that after Pat Fenlon’s side chalked up a 4-2 lead by half time in the return at Belle Vue.
After a goal-less first 28 minutes, Bohs stormed into a 3-0 lead courtesy of Stephen O’Donnell, Jason Byrne (pen) and Jason McGuinness.
But the Rhyl fans were soon cheering after a Mark Connolly double – one a free kick and the other where he found an unguarded net – made it 3-2.
Unfortunately, the home supporters’ dream of an equaliser were scuppered when Harpal Singh grabbed a fourth for the Irishmen before the break.
That was the end of the goals, although Rhyl did more than hold their own in the second period.
There was a feelgood factor around Belle Vue at the final whistle. At least the home side had not been disgraced and the good-natured exchanges between the two sets of fans were a joy to see.
The Rhyl fans chanted “Ireland, Ireland” at their visitors and the Dubliners replied loudly: “Wales, Wales”.
Rhyl: John Gann, Paul O’Neill, James Brewerton, Carl Ruffer, George Horan, Craig Jones, Gareth Wilson, Mark Connolly (Craig Garside 80), Chris Roberts (Jimmy Kelly 63), Marc Lloyd Williams, Gary Powell.
Att: 1,453.

2009/10 – Champions League

July 14, 2009
Rhyl 0 Partizan Belgrade 4

The most glamorous of Rhyl’s European ties, but the only one in which they were well and truly trounced.
Although Rhyl gave it plenty of effort they were simply outclassed by the Serbians in front of 1,726 at Belle Vue.
Mladen Krstajic’s brilliant 17th-minute strike from a free kick set the tone in the second qualifying round, first leg.
Partizan’s Brazilian signing Cordova Cleo struck a minute later.
Welsh Premier League champions Rhyl then saw Lamine Diarra score on the stroke of half-time and Nenad Djordjevic head home after 70 minutes.
Rhyl: Lee Kendall, Martin Naylor, Greg Stones, Greg Strong, George Horan, John Leah, Gareth Owen, Luke Holden, Neil Roberts, Matty Williams (Lee Hunt), Luke Sherbon (Mark Connolly).
Att: 1,726

Luke Sherbon of Rhyl FC tackles Lamine Diarra of Partizan Belgrade (Photo by AMA/Corbis via Getty Images)

July 21, 2009
Partizan Belgrade 8 Rhyl 0 (Aggregate 12-0)

Rhyl’s Champions League adventure came to an abrupt end in Serbia with a crushing 8-0 defeat at Partizan Belgrade in front of almost 10,000 spectators.
Cordova Cleo grabbed a hat-trick for the home side including one from the penalty spot.
Lamine Diarra had broken the deadlock after just four minutes, while Nenad Djordjevic and Brana Ilic also added goals before the break.
Ilic later got his second and Radosav Petrovic helped complete the rout.
It was very much a damage limitation exercise for the Lilywhites, virtually from the first whistle.
Rhyl: Lee Kendall, Martin Naylor, Greg Stones, Greg Strong, George Horan, John Leah, Gareth Owen, Luke Holden, Neil Roberts, Mark Connolly (Matty Williams), Luke Sherbon.
Att: 9,671

Rhyl’s complete European record

Played 14
Won 2
Drawn 1
Lost 11
Goals For 13
Goals Against 44

Top goalscorers

3 – Lee Hunt
2 – Mark Connolly, Andy Moran, Gary Powell
1 – Chris Adamson, Greg Stones, Craig Garside, 1 Own Goal

Top appearance makers

12 – George Horan
11 – James Brewerton
10 – Mark Powell, Mark Connolly
9 – Gareth Wilson
8 – Lee Hunt, Andy Moran, Stuart Graves, Greg Strong

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