There was a mixture of relief and hope in the Tallaght air last Thursday as 17-year-old Aidomo Emakhu scored an injury time winner in their UEFA Europa Conference League Third Qualifying Round, first leg against Teuta Durres. The Hoops travelled to
There was a mixture of relief and hope in the Tallaght air last Thursday as 17-year-old Aidomo Emakhu scored an injury time winner in their UEFA Europa Conference League Third Qualifying Round, first leg against Teuta Durres.
The Hoops travelled to Albania on Tuesday hopeful that they can build on their narrow lead and prolong their European adventure. Avoiding defeat will see Rovers take on the losers of the Europa League tie between Flora Tallin (Estonia) and AC Omonia Nicosia (Cyprus). Nicosia travel to Tallin with the narrowest of margins. Stephen Bradley will be hoping for a more open game than the first leg where his side had to show all their patients to make the breakthrough.
The match kicks-off at 7pm Irish Time and is available to stream for €10 - https://page.inplayer.com/teuta-vs-shamrock/
Rovers made their intentions known from the get-go last week with Danny Mandroiu, Richie Towell and the in-form Dylan Watts all in the starting eleven. The Hoops tried to get a hold of the game but were stifled by a resolute Teuta who broke up play at every opportunity. The first half ended with few chances, a frustrated crowd but the Albanians much the happier.
Stephen Bradley’s men struggles continued as the second half wore out with the home side desperately attempting to unlock the Albanians defensive block. 17-year-old Aidomo Emakhu was sprung from the bench for just his third substitute appearance, alongside six-time SSE Airtricity League winner Sean Gannon. The Rovers Academy graduate proved the difference as he got on the end of a Mandroiu cross to slot home and send the 1,500 home support into ecstasy.
The Hoops will be relieved to have a lead secured with Teuta needing to attack in the second leg, suggesting a more open affair.
Wyscout provided some statistics from the game and Rovers unsurprisingly were dominant in all departments. The Hoops accounted for 76% of the possession and the visitors registering just two shots in 90 minutes. Rovers had an impressive 706 passes with an 89% success rate compared to their opponents 183 (70% success).
On an individual level Lee Grace (103) and Dylan Watts (96) notched up the highest number of passes with Grace also recording the highest number of duels (5) and ball recoveries (15).
Rovers welcomed bottom of the table Longford Town to Tallaght Stadium on Sunday as they looked to maintain their lead at the top of the domestic table. The Hoops made seven changes for the game and the new look side were left frustrated by Daire Doyle’s well organised side.
As was the case in their previous two meetings, the home side broke De Town hears in injury time as in-demand defender Liam Scales superbly heading home a Sean Hoare cross for to win the game in the 95th minute. The win makes it six in a row for Bradley’s men as they look to defend their league crown.
Teuta remain in pre-season but Thursday will be their sixth European fixture this campaign. Their last two home-ties saw them defeated 2-0 at the hands of Inter Club d’Escaldes and 4-0 to Sheriff. Rovers will be hoping to inflict defeat number three when the sides meet on Thursday.
The second leg takes place at the Elbasan Arena which has a capacity of 12,800 and is home Albanian club side KF Elbasani. The hosts will travel from their base in the coastal city of Elbasan for the game.
Fellow Irish side Sligo Rovers have experience of away days in Albania having secured a 1-1 draw against KS Vllaznia in the UEFA Europa League First Qualifying Round in 2009/2010. The result wasn’t enough for Paul Cook’s men lost their first leg 2-1 at The Showgrounds.
In the Press
Stephen Bradley spoke about how he expected a defensive performance from the visitors last week having analysed their previous encounters. “What they brought against us, they brought against Sheriff away from home. When they played Sheriff at home, they went toe to toe with them. I expect we’ll get that. A totally different game, if they do, we’ll be ready for it. If they come and play, you’ll definitely see us.”
The Hoops boss also played down the impact the heat may have, pointing to their trip to Bratislava last month as he spoke prior to his sides departure. “It’s very similar to Slovan Bratislava. That will help us that we’ve played in it already. We’ve just got to go and play our game. We go Tuesday to get used to it.”
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