BOHEMIANS will have every reason to hope that they can advance to the third qualifying round of the Champions League after a second-half goal from Killian Brennan gave them a narrow victory over Welsh side TNS in a tense second-round, first-leg tie at Dalymount Park last night.
With the second leg in Oswestry next Tuesday, manager Pat Fenlon will be quietly confident making progress. The margin of victory might have been greater but for the Dublin side wasting a series of clear-cut openings — but the importance of not conceding a home goal could be telling.
TNS had an early chance when defender Daniel Holmes burst down the right to produce a low cross for winger Matthew Berkeley, who fired wide of the target at the far post.
Bohemians might have taken the lead on 19 minutes when Raffaele Cretaro appeared to be fouled by Phillip Baker. Dutch referee Hendrikus Nijhuis allowed play to continue and striker Paddy Madden slipped when about to shoot from six yards.
Cretaro went close when cutting in from the left, beating defender Daniel Holmes but he fired into the side-netting after a vital tackle by skipper Steven Evans.
Bohemians had a real let-off on 35 minutes when Craig Jones burst down the right and supplied a low cross for which Christopher Sharp stretched but could only divert the ball wide with keeper Barry Murphy beaten.
But the home side should have broken the deadlock just before the interval when Cretaro accepted a perfect return pass from Madden only to blast wide from eight yards. Seconds later Madden had another opportunity only to shoot at keeper Paul Harrison.
Bohemians continued to press forward in the second half and Madden wasted two openings in succession, first seeing his effort saved by the alert Harrison after Ruaidhri Higgins had opened up the Welsh defence. Then Madden had a header inches wide after a great cross by Brennan on the right.
All that pressure was bound to tell and to the delight of the 2,500 home crowd, Bohemians got their noses in front on 66 minutes. A long Madden cross from the left was powerfully headed home by Brennan, with the visitors’ defence for once caught out.
Late on Bohemians almost had a second goal when the Welsh failed to properly clear a Higgins corner on the left. Mark Quigley collected the ball and his shot from 30 yards clipped the crossbar with Harrison beaten.
BOHEMIANS: Murphy; Shelley, Heary, Oman, Powell; Brennan, Keegan, Higgins, Quigley; Cretaro (Byrne 75), Madden.
TNS: Harrison; Holmes, Baker, Evans, Marriott; Jones, Hogan, Ruscoe, Berkeley (Wood 77); Sharp, Williams (Darlington 82).
Referee: Hendrikus Nijhuis (Netherlands).
UEFA Champions League Second Qualifying Round First Leg:
Hapoel Tel-Aviv 5 Zeljeznicar Sarajevo 0. Dinamo Zagreb 5 Koper 1. Litex Lovech 1 Rudar Pljevlja 0. Omonia Nicosia 3 Renova 0. AIK 1 Jeunesse Esch 0. Birkirkara 1 MSK Zilina 0. Red Bull Salzburg 5 Torshavn 0. Metalurgs 0 Sparta Prague 3. Levadia Tallinn 1 Debrecen 1. Inter Baku 0 Lech Poznan 1.
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