Connah’s Quay Nomads embarrassed Kilmarnock 2-0 at Rugby Park to earn a stunning Europa League first qualifying round aggregate victory, forcing manager Angelo Alessio to apologise.
The Welsh outfit recovered from a 2-1 first-leg defeat to earn an unlikely 3-2 aggregate win and set up a tie with Partisan Belgrade of Serbia, with Callum Morris’ late penalty in Ayrshire proving decisive as both teams finished the game with 10 men.
Kilmarnock secured a third-place Scottish Premiership finish last season under boss Steve Clarke, who then left to take over the national team, earning a first tilt at European football in 18 years. It could scarcely have turned into a more demoralising experience for Killie, whose Italian boss is already under pressure following the loss.
Kilmarnock missed a hatful of scoring chances, enough to ensure a comfortable win had they been more clinical in front of goal, and the Nomads executed their smash and grab game plan perfectly.
“Every action was a foul, a yellow or red card. Unbelievable,” Alessio said afterwards. “Connah’s Quay gave away a lot of fouls, but this is their strength. “It was very disappointing. In the first half we had three opportunities to score, but in the second half the game was no good.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t think this game [would go wrong] after the right result last week. At the same time I thought this team had the quality, the strength and the right motivation to come back in this game.”