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Saturday 20th July v. Tobermore United (away) - Friendly - k.o: 3:00pm

NSI Runavik Match Preview
Uploaded Wednesday, 26th Jun, 2019 at 17:00

BALLYMENA United host Faroe Islands side NSI Runavik in the 1st Preliminary Round of the UEFA Europa League at the Showgrounds on Thursday evening.
This is the 1st leg of the tie between the sides, with the 2nd leg being played at Svangaskaro, Toftir next Thursday at 7:00pm.
NSI Runavik:
Formed in 1957, Runavik won their first, and only, Faroe Islands Premier League title in 2007. They've also won the Faroe Islands Cup in 1986, 2002 and, most recently, 2017. Finishing 2nd in the league last season could've seen them in the 1st Qualifying Round of the Europa League, but they lost out when B38 Torshavn won the Faroe Islands Cup.

Over the years Runavik have faced British opposition in Europe on a number of occasions, losing 3-0 on aggregate to English Premier League side Fulham, 5-4 to Irish League side Linfield and, last year, 12-5 to Scottish Premiership side Hibernian, all in the 1st Qualifying Round of the Europa League.

Manager Gudjon Thordarson has plenty of experience in managing British sides as well, having managed Stoke City, Barnsley, Notts County and Crewe Alexandra. International management experience is another thing Gudjon has, with a 3-year stint at the helm of Iceland, winning 10 games, drawing 4 and losing 8.
Ballymena United:
This is the second time in 3 seasons that United have qualified for European Competition, the most recent experience in 2017/18 when they faced Odd BK of Norway in the 1st Qualifying Round of the Europa League, losing the 1st leg 3-0 away from home and the 2nd leg 2-0 at Seaview, Belfast due to the pitch at the Showgrounds not meeting UEFA standards.

The "Sky Blues" have played 2 pre-season friendlies, beating Welsh Premier League side Cardiff Met 1-0 thanks to a 14th minute Cathair Friel penalty, and going on to beat their fellow country men 2-1 with goals from Leroy Millar and Ryan Mayse securing the win after United went 1-0 down.

Club captain Jim Ervin has said that the tie looks fairly evenly balanced and that Ballymena United are fit and raring to go against Runavik. "Both teams will think they have a chance of going through - we had someone watching them at the weekend and we have plenty of experience in the squad of playing teams from the Faroe Islands."
Match Tickets:
If you haven't yet got your tickets for the game, they're on sale from Stirling Trophies, Queen Street, Ballymena. Click here for more information. They'll also be available from ticket booths on both sides of the ground on the night.
Matchday Programme:
A special souvenir edition of our Matchday Programme, Sky Blue Review, will be available at the game, priced at £3 each. Click here for more information.
Match Officials:
Referee: Athanasios Tzilos. Assistant 1: Chasan Koula. Assistant 2: Vasileios Nikolakakis. 4th Official: Ioannis Papadopoulos.
Match Information:
Entrance to the game is by ticket only. Season tickets, Youth Academy passes and Junior Sky Blues membership cards will not be valid on the night. Click here for more ticket information.

Note that the Des Allen Suite is being used for matchday hospitality and will be unavailable for use by home stand supporters.

Kick off is 7:45pm.
Manager David Jeffrey has stated that any progress beyond the preliminary round would be a major bonus, and is hoping that a return of the European football to the Ballymena Showgrounds can hopefully help as the Sky Blues attempt to help bring the co-efficient back up to regain the Europa League place that the NIFL will lose next year. For the fans though, it's all about their beloved United - we look forward to a huge crowd at the game and, as always, know our supporters will be loud and proud in the support of THEIR team - Come On Sky Blues!
Match Preview by Paul Irwin