Last minute penalty sinks Covid depleted Nomads after battling display
Connah’s Quay Nomads exited the Europa League at the second qualifying round on Thursday evening after a 97th minute penalty from Dinamo Tbilisi’s Giorgi Gabedava.
The game saw the Welsh Champions face off against their Georgian counterparts, with Dinamo Tbilisi making the 2,800 mile journey to Wales having dropped into the Europa League after a 2-0 loss against Albania’s Tirana in the Champions’ League qualifying round one.
Nomads had the same path into the European clash after a 2-0 loss to Bosnia’s FK Sarajevo, and had also since started their domestic season with a 1-1 draw to Bala Town the previous Saturday evening.
Their biggest challenge ahead of the European tie came off the pitch, when three Nomads players tested positive for COVID-19 with an additional player showing symptoms.
In accordance with all regulations and after permission from relevant authorities, the players were placed in self-isolation with the game set to continue with a depleted Nomads squad.
There could be some repercussions for Nomads after manager Andy Morrisons admitted that some players turned up not feeling well last night but had to play.
After the game he said: “We lost five to covid, we’ve got three injured and we’ve basically put our last 11 players onto the pitch. We turned up tonight and there’s a couple of lads are not great.
They’re not feeling great, yes, we had to fill out all our documents in the morning and all that but you know, during the day, a couple of them don’t look great.
I’m sort of saying, I’m not interested, it can’t happen you know, you can’t say that you can’t go out there, you’ve got to go out and give everything.
Morrison later added some context to the comments, on twitter he said: “Three lads have turned up tonight and they’re not well,” said Morrison.
“And it’s like ‘lads I don’t want to hear it. I can’t hear it tonight that you’re ill, please like you know. Let’s just get through it’.
“I’ve been told that before the game and we’ve had to turn a blind eye to it and then you would have never noticed that anyone there tonight wasn’t feeling great.””
In another tweet he said: One had wind and another had toothache.
This left Andy Morrison with a selection of only 14 with influential captain George Horan and Callum Morris out through injury. Priestley Farquharson wore the armband for the game, with Jamie Insall upfront and Aeron Edwards in the midfield, albeit with a cast on his left hand after an injury against Bala.
Recently appointed Tbilisi manager Francisco Munoz Llompart meanwhile started a host of pacy attacking players including Nodar Kavtaradze, Giorgi Gabedava and Giorgi Zaria.
The Nomads started the game well, pushing up into the right wing in the 2nd minute where Declan Poole won a free kick which quickly led to a corner ball swung in by Dool before being caught by goalkeeper Roin Kvaskhvadze.
Andy Morrison’s limited squad made it clear they weren’t there to make up the numbers from the early stages, with Farquharson challenging defender Amossou, and Aeron Edwards making a run up to the byline in just seven minutes of the game starting.
With confidence from their start, Nomads then held their own as Tbilisi took more of the possession.
They looked to expose Nomads with runs down the wing from the likes of forward Nodar Kavtaradze, but he was met by the likes of Danny Davies and John Disney who stopped the visitors having any major chances early on.
In the 16th minute, another run from Kavtaradze down the left wing saw him collide with Nomads keeper Lewis Brass, who took a knock to the head but was able to continue after treatment.
The first real chance of the game came on 23 minutes, when a quick passing move from Tbilsi saw Giorgi Kimadze clatter the Connah’s Quay crossbar with an effort from around 20 yards out.
But just three minutes later Nomads got themselves in the opposite end, winning a corner kick which Sameron Dool took and eventual goalscorer Gabedava headed away.
After half an hour of play, the game remained goalless and Nomads were looking worthy opponents on the evening despite being outnumbered squad-wise by the Georgian champions, who had seven names on the bench to Nomads’ three.
In the 34th, they fended off another threat from Kavtaradze as he shot from the edge of the area to win a corner ball which was headed wide.
As the game neared the interval, Nomads began to attack well and were regularly in Tbilisi’s final third as the fourth official awarded six additional minutes of injury time at the end of the half.
It was during this that Nomads had one of their best chances of the afternoon, winning a throw in taken by Farquharson, who followed up by bursting in the box to send a ricocheted ball high up towards Insall.
Insall rose to the ball with a well taken overhead kick, but was denied by the left foot of goalkeeper Kvaskhvadze to deny Nomads the lead at half time by the finest margin.
Knowing they were matching their opponents well, Nomads came out for the second half looking for the vital opener.
Just one minute into the restart, Farquharson found Declan Poole inside the Tbilisi area, and in the 49th Dool so nearly found Insall in front of the goal as they continue to threaten the visitor’s final third.
After 50 minutes, Tbilisi were seeing possession inside the Nomads half, but failing to create major chances thanks to the stern defensive organisation of Andy Morrison’s side.
With an hour played and Nomads still undeterred in their game plan, Tbilisi manager Francisco Llompart introduced Dos Santos in place of Filip Orsula as he looked to find a breakthrough.
But this substitution did little to impact the game as Nomads started to mount a real battle at the Racecourse. In the 62nd, another Kavtaradze run was met by Danny Davies before Nomads won a free kick right on the edge of the Tbilisi area and near the byline on the right.
Kris Owens sent his delivery to the goal and was on target, but kept out by the keeper who was forced to push away the powerful effort on 65 minutes.
In the 68th, Tbilisi had a free kick of their own which led to a shot, but it was sent wide with only 20 minutes of normal time approaching.
With the game hanging in the balance, Nomads showed great composure in their game plan and continued to push for the opener, winning a number of set pieces which Tbilisi tried to counter only to find themselves again without a way through the Connah’s Quay defence.
As the game passed the 80 minute mark, Nomads had everything to play for with extra time looming. By now the encounter was end to end, with multiple set pieces for both sides being cleared amid packed penalty areas.
Andy Morrison made his first change in the 88th, as Jamie Insall had taken a knock on one of his darting runs up-field and was replaced by Aron Williams.
As the fourth official indicated a minimum of five minutes’ injury time, the already ferocious pace of the game increased further with each Nomads player putting in major efforts to keep Tbilisi at bay.
Dos Santos tried to be the man of the moment for his side, but was blocked by Dool from around 10 yards on 90+2 before he fired an effort over Brass’ goal on 90+4. As the clock ticked onto 95 minutes, the Nomads looked to have done enough to earn an additional 30 minutes of extra time, but at the death of the tie, a Callum Roberts challenge on Dos Santos saw referee Alain Durieux of Luxembourg point to the penalty spot.
With nothing on the clock, Gabedava stepped up and slotted past Lewis Brass to hand his side a dramatic victory, and cruelly send Nomads out of the competition after a phenomenal performance from Andy Morrison’s side.
Reporting: Will Catterall/Deeside.com
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