Connah’s Quay Nomads won the biggest game in their history on Thursday evening as they embarrassingly dumped Kilmarnock out of the Europa League in the first qualifying round.
Kilmarnock looked a shadow of the side that I watched last season under Stevie Clarke. I can imagine it was a real sore one for the Kilmarnock faithful who were used to watched high quality football last season and it leaves Angelo Alessio starting from the lowest of the lows. He will be under enormous amounts of pressure now and has big boots to fill.
Killie held a 2-1 advantage after winning in Rhyl last week, where two late goals from Eamon Brophy and Stuart Findlay put the Scottish club in the driving seat.
The Nomads came here with a plan, similar to last week which was to defend gutsily, and strike on the counter attack when they can. The Welsh outfit are a very gritty team and foul near enough every time they are defending, but its their strengths. They use the same tactics all the time, as they did last season, where they got the Challenge Cup final, where they lost to Ross County.
Stuart Findlay scored the winner in stoppage in the first round and he almost scored again when on the fifth minute, a corner wasn’t cleared by The Nomads defence and Findlay pounced on the loose ball, but his effort was well saved and held by Lewis Brass.
The away side gave Killie a huge shock as they should have been ahead on the ninth minute, when Callum Morris linked up well with Michael Wilde before a low cross beat all the Killie defenders and found Morris at the back-post, but he somehow put his effort by the post with the goal wide-open.
Up the other end Rory McKenzie burst forward before sliding in Greg Taylor, who’s effort was well saved by Brass before Alan Power fired the rebound into the Chadwick stand.
Brass came to the rescue once again for the Welsh side as he halted Taylor from scoring for the second time. A cross by Chris Burke evaded all the visitors back-line and found the left-back at the back-post, but out came Brass to make an excellent save at point-blank range.
Kilmarnock kept knocking at the door of The Nomads defence, who were camped in their own box, but kept missing opportunities that may come back and haunt them. The visitors were actually time-wasting from the start, as they obviously had a plan to be in the tie still at half-time.
The hosts were having plenty of joy out of the wings and it was Stephen O’Donnell who was next to go close for as his effort smashed off the outside of the post.
A dominant half by Kilmarnock, who squandered numerous opportunities that may come back and bite them.
Half Time- Kilmarnock 0-0 Connah’s Quay Nomads
Kilmarnock looked a completely different side as soon as they started the second half and Rugby Park was silenced on the 49th minute as the visitors took the lead. Callum Morris beat Greg Taylor to the by-line before his cross found Ryan Wignall all by himself and he made no mistake as he headed it into the bottom left-hand corner.
After The Nomads got their goal, you could see them growing in confidence and I’m sure manager Andy Morrison would have been delighted as his plan was working to perfection. There was also a growing amount of frustration from the home fans as Killie were struggling to string two passes together and kept passing backwards instead of going forward.
It became a very feisty encounter with Nomads making a few very nasty and crunching challenges, making the home fans even more frustrated. It only looked a matter of time until referee Ferenc Karako sent somebody off.
Kilmarnock kept trying to get by the tough “Deesiders” defence but the Welsh continued to stand tall.
The Welsh side unbelievably took the lead in the 79th minute as Boo’s from the home fans rang around Rugby Park. It was a huge slice of a luck as a sliding challenge from George Horan ended up beating the whole Kilmarnock defence and sent substitute and former Hibee, Jamie Insall through on goal. Stuart Findlay tried to track back but ended up fouling The Nomads striker and denying a clear goal-scoring opportunity, which resulted in a red card and a penalty. Callum Morris, who had been the best Nomads players of the evening, stepped up and sent Jamie MacDonald the wrong way, sending the small set of travelling fans into dreamland.
Now Kilmarnock simply had to score or they were facing the embarrassment of being knocked out by the part-time, Connah’s Quay Nomads.
They came agonisingly close to getting that goal on the 82nd minute, when a free-kick by Gary Dicker found Kirk Broadfoot, who’s powerful header came crashing back off the bar, with Brass well beaten on this occasion.
The hosts were handed a small lifeline when Ryan Wignall was sent off for a horrible tackle on Brophy, with five minutes remaining.
However, The Nomads held on gamely to give Andy Morrisons men the best result in the Welsh clubs history. A few people were calling for Angelo’s head already and this was just his first home game in charge, with one fan saying to me ” This result itself is a sackable offence”.
Full Time- Kilmarnock 0-2 Connah’s Quay Nomads
I am not even a Kilmarnock fan and I still feel embarrassed for them. From the position they were in they should have never lost. They were lucky enough not to lose in the first leg. Angelo Alessio had a lot of pressure on his back before this game, but he has a hell of a lot more now.
They brought a fantastic home support and all Stevie Clarkes hard work last season has been undone after two games. It will be interesting to see how Alessio lifts the spirits at Rugby Park and also to see how long he lasts. It was a huge gamble appointing him.
First of all he needs signings. As an Accies fan I will tell you that Eamon Brophy cannot play up-front himself. He done it last night and got thrown all over the place. They could have done with Kris Boyd last night and need to sign someone similar. They also need to get a replacement for Jordan Jones, as Rory McKenzie cant get up and down the line. So many times last night the ball was with Greg Taylor and McKenzie was nowhere to be seen.
Its hard to judge Mohammad El Makrini as it was his debut, but he looked nowhere near fully fit and I am surprised he played.
Will Kilmarnock be a top six side this season or will they be back down the bottom again?
McDonald, O’Donnell, Taylor, Broadfoot, Power, McKenzie, Dicker, Brophy, El Makrini(87), Findlay, Burke(82)
Subs- Branescu, Kiltie, Waters, Wilson, Millen, Thomas(87), Cameron(82)
Connah’s Quay Nomads XI
Brass, Disney, Roberts(83), Horan, Bakare(70), Morris, Wilde, Poole, Holmes, Owen, Wignall
Subs- Green, Farquharson(83), Insall(70), Woolfe, Harwood
Referee- Ferenc Karako(HUN)
Assistants- Istvan Albert(HUN) & Balazs Buzas(HUN)
Fourth Official- Sandor Ando-Azabo(HUN)
Goals- Wignall(49), Morris(80)
Yellow Cards- Disney(34), Wilde(60), McKenzie(65), Wignall(74,85), Holmes(78), Insall(83),
Red Cards- Findlay(79), Wignall(85)