Spartak Trnava stand in the way of the Bit O’Red and a place in the third qualifying round — not to mention another UEFA cheque worth €100,000 — and there is no fear about taking them on. The expectations around the city to the north-east of Bratislava is that Spartak should win tonight’s first leg, and that suits Baraclough just fine, as he is backing his Sligo side to cause an upset.
“It’s important we keep the tie alive going back to The Showgrounds next week. Getting an away goal would be an added bonus,” said Baraclough.
“If we’re within touching distance when the tie goes back to The Showgrounds, then we can get our fans bouncing and behind us. And that would be magnificent for the town and for us. All of the factors come into account — we’re flying high at the top of the table, we’re doing well off the pitch, with a new stand opening and we’ve done great with the people we’ve re-signed.
“There is a great positivity around the club and if we can take that into a big European night, what a lift that would give to the players and go and get us into the next round.”
Mark Quigley did not travel with the squad but Baraclough insists the striker is not on the way out of the club despite speculation. The only injury doubt for Sligo is right-back Alan Keane, who picked up a calf strain in last Friday’s win over Derry City.
It will be Baraclough’s first game in Europe as a manager and he expects a tough test. The match kicks off in the Antona Malatinskeho Stadium at 6pm Irish time.
SPARTAK TRNAVA (Probable): M Filipko; P Gross, P Cvirik, L Hanzel, M Janecka; V Stozicky, M Karhan, M Bicak, M Gasparik, M Mikovic; I Schranz.
SLIGO ROVERS (Probable): G Rogers; A Keane, G Peers, J McGuinness, I Davoren; R Boco, J Ndo, D Ventre, D Cawley, R Gaynor; D North.
Referee: Tommy Skjerven (Norway).