Connah’s Quay Nomads 2 (Curran 19, Horan 80)
FC Alashkert 2 (Khurtsidze 20, 44)
Andy Morrison believes his Connah’s Quay side have everything to play for when they travel to Armenia for the second leg of their UEFA Champions League first qualifying round tie against Alashkert next Wednesday.
Looking up against it at half time with a 2-1 deficit in the first leg at Park Avenue, the Welsh Premier champions produced a magnificent performance to salvage a draw in the second period.
Morrison, whose team is ranked 441 in Europe compared to the Armenians’ 346, do not have to worry about away goals next week as the long-running rule of them counting double has been scrapped by UEFA.
Speaking after Wednesday’s 2-2 split at Aberystwyth, the Nomads chief said about the return game: “We are not going there as tourists.
“We’re in a game and now they know they’re in a game.
“There would have been periods in that first half where they thought this is just a stroll for us, we can win this easily, because we were very poor. We made some terrible decisions.
“A pitch I tried to make as difficult as possible I think affected us more than them. There are very good players in their team.”
Nomads had to contend with several injury concerns and illness in the camp leading up to Wednesday’s game, yet found the energy to grab a late equaliser.
Morrison stressed it is important people take into account the quality of the opposition.
“We’ve boxed off things for 14 days on them, then last week they brought three players in – a Brazilian on the left wing, a top Russian under-21 into midfield who bangs two in our top corner, and a 6 ft 2 Portugese.
“But yet again, most importantly, we found a way not to embarrass ourselves.
“It’s part-time players back in work tomorrow against a team full of internationals.”
Morrison believes his team is more than capable of finishing the job in Armenia, citing famous away past wins in Norway and Scotland for the Deesiders.
“We had to go to Kilmarnock and Stabaek and try and get something. – we’re in the game.
“We’ll cause them problems, we put that ball in the box and they can’t deal with us.”
The deadlock was broken in the 19th minute by Craig Curran, who scored the club’s first-ever goal in the Champions League, finishing with a close range header after keeper Ognjen Čančarević had come out to challenge Michael Wilde for the ball from a Jamie Mullan cross.
However, this lead lasted only two minutes as David Khurtsidze hit back with an equaliser. Just before the break, Khurtsidze finished well again to make it 2-1 at half time.
The second half was paused after just three minutes, when Danny Holmes suffered a knee injury which forced a lengthy wait for him to be stretchered off for further assessments in hospital.
Nomads refused to buckle, and in the 79th minute brought themselves level when evergreen defender George Horan got on the end of a loose ball following a corner to tap in at close range.
Late pressure from the Armenians threatened to put them back ahead, but the Quay held on heroically for the draw.