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Crusaders ace Paul Heatley is aiming for another Euro jackpot

By Graham Luney

Published 07/07/2015

Raring to go: Paul Heatley trains last night ahead of the second leg in Tallinn
Raring to go: Paul Heatley trains last night ahead of the second leg in Tallinn

Paul Heatley says he's confident Crusaders can perform another European miracle just 12 months on from the club's first ever win on the continent.

It was Heatley's brace in a 2-1 victory against FK Ekranas in Lithuania that sealed a memorable 5-2 aggregate triumph.

And now the former Carrick Rangers ace is confident lightning will strike twice and the Crues can conquer Levadia Tallinn in a finely poised Champions League showdown.

It's scoreless going into the second leg at the A. Le Coq Arena in Tallinn, but Stephen Baxter's side created enough goalscoring opportunities in the first battle to give them hope they can record another famous away result.

"It's always special to score in Europe as Irish League teams don't find it easy, but I don't care who scores as long as we make it through," says Heatley who was crowned Player of the Year after Crusaders snatched a first league title in 18 years.

"With the addition of Michael Carvill, Andy Mitchell and Jordan Forsythe we can really trouble defences and they just give us more strength and quality from an attacking perspective.

"We've just got to get that goal and see how they react.

"We pulled together to get a clean sheet in the first leg and I know we can work hard to get the goal we need.

"After the game at Seaview I felt they never looked like scoring, but we were a big threat.

"We have to be confident we can win away from home in Europe, just like last year."

Crusaders lacked a ruthless touch in the first leg and that was perhaps unsurprising as they only had a few training sessions under their belts.

A composed, disciplined and patient performance will be needed in Tallinn while the defence, without skipper Colin Coates - who is on holiday - will need to be resolute.

Levadia Tallinn will certainly be more attack minded in the rematch, but Heatley says the Crues can weather the storm.

"I thought we were fantastic in the first leg," he added.

"We had done our homework and used our physical attributes to cause them problems.

"It was an outstanding performance and even though we didn't score we left ourselves every opportunity to progress in the competition.

"There's definitely at least one goal in us out there.

"We were perhaps a little rusty in our first competitive game and that is to be expected, but we created a lot of chances and that's an encouraging sign.

"Over the 90 minutes we asked questions of them and I've no doubt we can score a goal out there that will put them under severe pressure.

"We will go there full of confidence and expecting to get a positive result.

"I know Colin Coates is unavailable, but we have enough quality in the squad to deal with the loss of a player.

"They are halfway through their season and we are just back and that makes a massive difference, but we still managed to create several goalscoring opportunities."

Crues assistant boss Jeff Spiers believes his side can progress to the second qualifying round and a clash against Albania's KS Skenderbeu.

"We're still in the game and I think we will score in Tallinn," he said. "Considering the chances we created in the first leg, I think 0-0 is dangerous for the home team."

Derry City have signed former St Patrick's Athletic striker Mark Quigley until the end of the season.

The 29-year-old Dubliner was a free agent after failing to secure a club because of a back problem.

Meanwhile, Fulham's Liam Donnelly has extended his contract with the Championship side.

Northern Ireland international defender Donnelly has signed a deal which keeps him at the club until June 2016.

Champions League: FC Levadia v Crusaders, A. Le Coq Arena, 5pm (BST)

Belfast Telegraph

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