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Connah's Quay Nomads Match Preview
Uploaded Friday, 16th Jun, 2017 at 12:30

BALLYMENA United face Welsh side Connah's Quay Nomads in a pre-season game on Saturday afternoon at Dixon Park, Ballyclare.
Both sides have qualified for this seasons Europa League and enter at the first qualifying round, so this match presents a chance to prepare for their upcoming European games against another team entering the competition at the same stage.
Connah's Quay Nomads:
Connah's Quay Nomads, formed in 1946 as Connah's Quay Juniors after several previous sides went bankrupt, were the brainchild of Everton and Wales centre-half Tommy (T.G.) Jones, a native of the town. Many of the youngsters of the town were attracted by his reputation and the team quickly became a force in North Wales youth soccer, winning the Welsh Youth Cup in 1945.

Natural progression led to the club formed a senior side and joined the newly formed Clwyd League and spent more than a dozen seasons at this level, winning the championship twice. Nomads' most successful season was in 1980/81 when they won seven trophies including the Welsh Intermediate Cup, and the Clwyd League without losing a game. After three successful seasons in the Welsh Alliance, Connah's Quay became founder members of the Cymru Alliance in 1990 and the League of Wales two seasons later.

Neville Powell joined the club as player/manager in the summer of 1993 though he suffered a bad injury very early in his career at Connah's Quay that would end his playing career. Nevertheless he steadily built his team into one capable of challenging for a European place. Within twelve months of Powell's arrival, Nomads won the North Wales Coast F.A. Cup and, in 199596, won the League of Wales League Cup, beating Ebbw Vale in the final at Caersws.
They came close to qualifying for European competition in 2002/03, finishing a single point behind fourth place. In the 2012/13 season the Nomads fielded an ineligible player and were deducted a point which seen them drop into the bottom half of the table, fighting against relegation. They still managed to reach the play-off for a Europa League spot but lost out to eventual qualifiers Bala Town.

Current manager Andy Morrison was appointed to the position in November 2015 and didn't take long to turn the fortunes of the side around. He helped secure the Club's first ever place in European football at the end of that season, winning their two play-off games, taking them into the 2016/17 Europa League First Qualifying Round. They defeated Norwegian side Stabaek 1-0 over two legs to secure a place in the Second Qualifying Round, where they lost 1-3 to Serbian SuperLiga team Vojvodina Novi Sad and dropped out of the competition.

They secured a spot in this seasons Europa League First Qualifying Round with a 2-0 victory over Bala Town in April, and made history by finishing in second place with a draw against Cardiff Metropolitan University on the last day of the season. This is their first pre-season game this season, and they've already tasted the hospitality of the Northern Irish when they faced Cliftonville last season, losing narrowly at Solitude.
Ballymena United:
Ballymena United have played in European competition on 6 occasions. In 1978/79 they lost both ties 3-0 to KSK Beveren in the European Cup Winners' Cup after finishing runners up in the previous seasons Irish Cup to league champions Linfield. Just 2 years later United were back in Europe, qualifying for the UEFA Cup by finishing third in the league. United defeated East German side FC Vorwaerts 2-1 at home, but lost 3-0 in the return leg in Berlin.

The following year it was back to the European Cup Winners' Cup after United won the Irish Cup against Glenavon. The draw seen us face one of the European giants in the shape of Italian side AS Roma, losing 2-0 at home and 4-0 in Rome. Three years later and it was an Irish Cup win against Carrick Rangers that took the Braidmen back into the Cup Winners' Cup, where they lost both legs to Maltese team Hamrun Spartans, ending up defeated 3-1 on aggregate.

It was another 5 years before the next foray into Europe, winning the Irish Cup with a 1-0 victory over Larne and drawing Belgian giants RSC Anderlecht in the Cup Winners' Cup, suffering their largest European defeat with a 6-0 away hammering followed by a 4-0 loss at home. It would be another 15 years before Ballymena were in Europe again, entering the now defunct Intertoto Cup. The draw threw up Danish side Odense BK and United travelled to Denmark for the first leg, grabbing a 0-0 draw to the delight of the travelling sky blues. The home leg was a completely different story though, a disappointing 7-0 defeat in front of a packed house. It didn't stop the fans wanting more though and, 13 years later there's a huge hunger about the town about the upcoming UEFA Europe League tie.
A 1-1 draw with rivals Coleraine on the last day of the regular season seen United jump into 4th place in the league, securing a home tie in the Europa League play-off semi-final against Dungannon Swifts. Goals from Tony Kane (2), Joe McKinney, Johnny McMurray and Kyle Owens were plenty to see off the challenge 5-2, and take us into the final against Glenavon, who United hadn't manage to beat in any competition in over 3 seasons.
Tony Kane celebrates after firing home a penalty to make it 3-0 against Dungannon Swifts
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Home advantage meant little against such dangerous opposition but goals from Cathair Friel and ex-Glenavon player Kevin Braniff helped us to a 2-1 win and our latest foray into Europe.
United fans were in full voice during the final against Glenavon
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Kevin Braniff congratulated after scoring the winning goal
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Manager David Jeffrey was delighted with the victory
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Match Officials:
To Be Confirmed
Match Information:
The game will take place at Dixon Park in Ballyclare.

Admission, payable at the gate, is 10 for adults and 7 for seniors and youths.

Kick off is 2:00pm.
It may be just over a month since last season finished but it feels like a lifetime to many supporters, and this is the first game since the play-off final win over Glenavon. As always, we'd appreciate a loud and proud vocal support as we welcome the fans and officials of Connah's Quay!

Come on Sky Blues!
Match Preview by Paul Irwin