Levadia Tallinn 0 Dundalk FC 1
Stephen Kenny feels his side still have work to do to book their place in the second qualifying round of the Europa League despite winning away against Levadia Tallinn at the Kadriorg Stadium yesterday evening.
Dylan Connolly’s 53rd-minute strike has put the Louth men in the driving seat for a possible clash with AEK Larnaca in the next round but Kenny says the tie is still very much in the balance ahead of next Thursday’s second leg in Oriel Park.
“We’re sort of kicking ourselves a little that we didn’t make it a bit easier for ourselves,” said Kenny.
“At 2-0 we’d be very confident but with just the one goal it’s still a test. It won’t be any easier next week just because we’re at home. I think it will be a tough game.
“There’s such a slender margin. We’re glad to get the clean sheet and the away goal though.”
Given Cork City won 2-0 at this venue 12 months ago before advancing 6-2 on aggregate, many expected Dundalk to blitz the Estonians.
This is a much-changed side from then, however, and the home side took the game to the Premier Division leaders, who spent much of the first half on the back foot.
But Levadia lacked a cutting edge in front of goal with Rasmus Peetson pulling a shot wide and Yurij Tkachuk firing tamely at Gary Rogers from a free-kick.
Dundalk had the better chances. Michael Duffy had a shot just wide on 16 minutes while a minute before the break it took a desperate lunge from Maksim Podholjuzin to deflect Robbie Benson’s shot over the crossbar after he had been picked out by Duffy’s pull back.
The visitors did have a let-off six minutes into the second half when Gando headed over after Tkachuk’s corner was missed by Rogers.
Within two minutes they were ahead as Jamie McGrath released Duffy on the left with his cross turned in at the back post by Connolly.
It took a superb save from Rogers to preserve that lead on 59 minutes after Pavel Marin’s cross deflected off Brian Gartland.
Dundalk had a chance to kill the game off on 72 minutes when Chris Shields slipped Connolly in on goal but the winger was denied a second by Lepmets.
Connolly then teed Pat Hoban up for another big chance with five minutes to go but the striker’s first-time shot was saved by Lepmets to keep his side in the tie.
LEVADIA TALLINN: Lepmets 7; Jurgenson 7, Dudarev 7, Podholjuzin 7, Kruglov 6; Gando 6 (Marin 6 57), Tkachuk 7, Peetson 6 (Svraka 6 67), Harin 7 (Roosnupp 6 76); Debelko 5, Andreev 6. Subs not used: Pikker, Morozov, Nesterov, Domov.
DUNDALK: Rogers 8; Gannon 6, Gartland 7, Hoare 7, Massey 7; Shields 7, Benson 7; Connolly 8 (Mountney 88) , McGrath 7 (Adorján 81), Duffy 7 (Murray 95); Hoban 6. Subs not used: Sava, Chvedukas, Cleary, Kelly.
Referee: Bojan Nikolic (Serbia).