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Glory in failure – 3 defeats but no disgrace for Cymru Premier sides in Europe

Connah’s Quay Nomads line up before taking on Tbilisi. Picture: Nik Mesney, NCM Media

On the surface, a week of Cymru Premier failure in Europe with all three representatives knocked out.

However, a closer look at Bala Town, Connah’s Quay Nomads and The New Saints defeats reveal there is so much to be proud of.

Nomads’ 1-0 home loss to Dinamo Tbilisi at Wrexham was particularly hard to take.

At the very least, the Cymru Premier champions deserved to extend the mighty Georgians to extra time, but to go out to a 97th minute penalty – virtually the last kick of the game – was especially galling.

To lose a tie in such a manner with a full squad would have been worthy of praise, but to run such strong opponents so close with six regulars missing – three to COVID-19 – was a phenomenal effort.

Jamie Insall’s bicycle kick just before the break went so close to putting the Quay ahead, and the hosts did some great attacking in the second half.

Tbilisi started strongly, hitting the bar in the first half, but as the tie wore on they found Nomads more than a match.

Bala’s 2-0 exit at Standard Liege saw the Cymru Premier once again emerge with much credit.

It could have been such a different story had Chris Venables’ first-half penalty not been saved with the score at 1-0.

As it was, the Belgians led 2-0 at the break.

Anyone expecting Bala to fall apart in the second half would have been stunned as helped by some fantastic Alex Ramsay stops, the Lakesiders did not just avoid conceding again, they also had opportunities to score themselves.

Over the years we have seen Welsh Premier clubs crash out of Europe to some pretty nondescript names.

Not this time. Dinamo Tbilisi and Standard Liege may not be the forces they once were, but they still have some tremendous European pedigree and Nomads and Bala matched them tooth-and-nail.

Town had already produced a marvellous performance to win 1-0 in Valletta in the previous round, while Nomads had given FK Sarajevo a massive test in the Champions League.

Yes, they are not the results we wanted, but let’s not forget how much we have progressed in Europe and hopefully there are even better times to come.

TNS’ penalties loss to B36 Torshavn was disappointing in view of the fact Saints thrashed the same opponents in the Champions League five years ago.

However, manager Scott Ruscoe said before Tuesday’s clash that the Faroe Islanders had improved considerably since then.

In truth, Saints were through, only to be denied victory by a 120th minute equaliser.

With a penalty shoot-out anything can happen. This time it was Torshavn’s night.

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