Good afternoon. I’ve been contemplating trying this for a while so this evening I’m going to try and run a live blog right here for TNS’ Champions League second qualifying round, first-leg tie against Slovakian champions Slovan Bratislava.
You can get involved by sharing your views through the comments section below or on Twitter, by contacting me directly @1matthewburgess or by using the hashtag #tnsliveblog. I will share your comments as I update the blog.
My blog from yesterday previewing the game is available here. This page will be continually updated throughout and if it works, then I may be come back to it again during the Welsh Premier League season.
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Well that’s me done and my evening is certainly better knowing that the tie is very much alive for the second-leg. Thanks to those who have followed the blog tonight. Maybe I’ll do it again sometime, in the meanwhile keep your comments coming here or via Twitter. Catch up with you soon!
Full-time: Slovan Bratislava 1-0 TNS It’s all over and Slovan Bratislava take a slender 1-0 lead to North Wales for next week’s second-leg. TNS will be disappointed with the goal they conceded but the hosts deserve their lead. The tie is very much still alive however, which would have been Craig Harrison and Carl Darlington’s main objective going into this game. The big question is, can they squeeze anymore out of this TNS side to cancel out the first-leg deficit?
91 minutes TNS almost gifted a goal. The Slovan keeper finds himself cut short in possession and narrowly pulls off a drag back to just get past Wilde before scrambling the ball away to safety. TNS look to have done enough to have kept this tie alive for next week’s second-leg at Belle Vue.
89 minutes Sam Finley comes of for veteran Scott Ruscoe, who makes his 300th TNS appearance. Slovan also make a change as Grendel replaces the disappointing Halenár.
88 minutes “Keep the door firmly slammed,” says Sgorio pundit Tomi Morgan. Quite.
84 minutes Draper stripped on the touchline and ready to come on, replacing Aeron Edwards, who appears to have picked up a strain. TNS seemingly going with two forwards meaning they will have lost some of their defensive shape with Edwards leaving the field. So important for TNS not to concede a second goal, they’re just starting to look a little heavy-legged.
81 minutes Alex Darlington becomes the second TNS player to be cautioned. It was a niggly foul and a sign of frustration but I don’t think he’s done too bad since coming on for the second-half. Good player and I’d like to see him start the second-leg. Brief moment of pinball deep inside the TNS goalmouth, the ball fizzes behind for a late corner.
75 minutes Wilde and Darlington attempt to combine as TNS attempt to become more of an attacking threat in the closing stages. An away goal would transform this tie. I’d like to see Greg Draper get on the field.
72 minutes First change for the Slovaks, captain Zoftak is replaced by Trinidad winger Peltier. Meanwhile, Seargeant concedes a dangerous looking free-kick, centrally from around 25-yards out, which Halenár drives against the wall.
68 minutes Best effort of the game for TNS! Darlington feeds the ball to Michael Wilde, who sends a powerful effort wide. Encouraging! Greg Draper warming up for the Saints, could he be about to come on?
65 minutes Milinkovic with a drive from distance but straight at Harrison. Under half-hour remaining and TNS yet to threaten the Slovan Bratislava goal. The hosts are looking comfortable.
59 minutes Harrison saves at the feet of Jablonsky, TNS under considerable pressure since Slovan took the lead. They really need to get Aeron Edwards and Sam Finley on the ball and dictate a bit. The Saints starting to get back into it but their possession is all in their own half and unchallenged with Slovan happy to sit back.
52 minutes GOAL! Erik Cikos puts Slovan Bratislava ahead. The right-back drifts past Matty Williams and beats Paul Harrison with a low near-post finish from outside the area. Harrison should’ve done better and it was all a bit too easy.
50 minutes Halenar finds just enough space fires a neat cut-back, while Soumar again threatens to carve TNS open at Rawlinson’s expense. Dicey start for the Saints.
Second-half Refreshed and ready to go – TNS are back out too. Surprised to see such a small crowd at this match but apparently Slovan Bratislava’s supporters are in dispute over a ground move. Anyway, one change for the Saints. Alex Darlington replaces Ryan Fraughan. Not naturally a wide-player but very neat and comfortable on the ball.
Slovan out-shot TNS 9-1 in the first-half, the hosts managing 3 attempts on target. No cautions for either side.
Half-time: Slovan 0-0 TNS Craig Harrison and Carl Darlington will be encouraged with this first-half which at times got a little nervy. Got a feeling the words ‘caution’ and ‘concentration’ will be used in the Saints’ dressing room at half-time.
40 minutes Jablonsky bombs forward into space from the left-back position and delivers an inviting low cross. There’s a foul in the process however and TNS win a timely free-kick. Slovan working the flanks, TNS dropping off and keeping a narrow shape when not in possession.
34 minutes Suicidal defending by Rawlinson but TNS are let off the hook. The defender cheaply loses possession and Slovan quickly work the ball into the box before Ford fires wide. That was close!
28 minutes A moment’s hesitancy inside the area almost proves costly for TNS. Harrison also does his bit to raise the blood pressure of the TNS dug-out dribbling around a Slovan forward to play the ball out of his box. Early indications are good here but concentration is absolutely vital.
19 minutes TNS are well accustomed to retaining possession but they need to be wary of doing so when playing so deep. Meanwhile Mark Jones apologises to ‘female football fans, who don’t like football throughout the whole year’. Not your finest comment in hindsight Jonah! That noise you can hear is the Sgorio production team cringing…
17 minutes Dangerous spell for the hosts, TNS need possession to take some of the sting out of the game. Harrison did well to save low down. Slovan definitely look like they’re capable of scoring. TNS need to build on their start and maintain focus.
14 minutes Possession seems to be split 50/50. Irrelevant, but does anyone else find Slovan’s ‘Nike’ sponsor on their Adidas shirts mildly amusing?
8 minutes Both teams playing a passing game. Sgorio commentator Mark Jones estimating that there’s just a 1,000 in attendance. TNS look to have settled well and are looking to supply Wilde down the flanks.
4 mins Slovan, as expected, seeing more of the ball. TNS looking to play out from the back. Both sides 4-2-3-1. The pitch looks ok, though Craig Harrison mentioned earlier this week that he felt the grass was fairly long.
17:41 The Pasienky Stadium certainly appears far from sold out. TNS sporting their usual colours, Slovan play in light blue ala Coventry City. Milinkovic starts wide right, will be interesting to see how TNS deal with him early on.
17:39 Don’t forget, commentary available in Welsh and English on Sgorio’s live TV coverage.
17:37 Much of TNS’ hopes in this away leg could rest on the performance of Sam Finley. He enjoyed an excellent season last year, where for me, he established himself as the best player in the WPL. A number of Championship clubs have been closely monitoring his progress and these European matches could possibly be his last games for The New Saints.
17:28 Just over 15-minutes to go until kick-off and the Edwards/Rawlinson partnership in central defence is going to be crucial this evening. TNS would’ve been contemplating going with the more experienced pairing of Baker and Evans. Edwards featured heavily last season but Rawlinson only made 11 WPL starts last season. A big test for the 22-year-old awaits.
17:17 If you’re wondering where TNS winger Chris Jones is, the former Swan is currently on trial at Newport County, according to the South Wales Argus.
17:14 Serbian number 11 Marko Milinkovic, very much the man to watch in the Slovan Bratislava side based on current form. He scored twice on the weekend and also scored the week before, in the Super Cup final. I expect Chris Seargeant to be given the responsibility of keeping him quiet. Interestingly, no Vittek in the line-up or on the bench.
17:07 No place in the TNS XI for Steve Evans or Phil Baker. Connell Rawlinson and Kye Edwards form a central-defensive partnership. Greg Draper will have to be content with a place on the bench as Michael Wilde gets the nod up-front. Matty Williams and Ryan Fraughan will provide the width, with the regular midfield trio of Christian Seargeant, Aeron Edwards and Sam Finley looking to control things.
17:01 First-team coach Carl Darlington has identified Slovakian international Robert Vittek as Slovan’s dangerman for this tie but believes the Saints can go into the game with confidence. “Over the past week the players have taken the opportunity to watch DVDs of their opponents in action and we are looking to the game with confidence,” he told the Border Counties Advertizer. Heopfully we’ll have some teamnews pretty soon. Steve Evans could make his return after missing most of last season through injury but there are doubt’s over fellow central defender Phil Baker. Jamie Mullan has already been ruled out through injury.
16:45 Well, if anyone is bold to make any predictions on tonight’s game, please get in touch and I’ll mention them here. Conditions in the Bratislava are warm and cloudy with the temperature currently at 27 degrees.