Belfast Telegraph

Ballymena can blast NSI Runavik on counter attack, says Kane

 

All smiles: Ballymena United’s Jude Winchester (right) celebrates his goal with Tony Kane in the first leg
All smiles: Ballymena United’s Jude Winchester (right) celebrates his goal with Tony Kane in the first leg

By Alex Mills

Versatile Tony Kane insists Ballymena United must approach tonight's Europa League preliminary round second leg tie away to NSI Runavik with a certain degree of caution.

David Jeffrey's Sky Blues put themselves into a fantastic position to progress at the Showgrounds last week with an opening 2-0 victory, courtesy of strikes from Leroy Millar and Jude Winchester.

It was Ballymena's first home European match for 15 years and they certainly gave their big, partisan support plenty to cheer.

But Kane believes that the tie is far from over and his team must show the same patience, commitment, dedication and passion to set up a money-spinning first round clash with Swedish side Malmo.

"It was a great result last week, but it is still a dangerous one," admitted Kane. "We have to go there with an open mind and play like we did last Thursday.

"Obviously the onus is on them to come at us - they need a couple of goals. But that could maybe leave them open at the back and we have the players to capitalise.

"We must go there with a mindset of us needing to win the game, forget about the 2-0 advantage. David (Jeffrey) and Bryan (McLoughlin) have been in this type of position before, so they'll devise a plan and hopefully it will get us through.

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"We know Runavik are capable of scoring goals. They scored four against Linfield not so long ago and they scored five against Hibs over two legs last year. It may have been 12-5 on aggregate, but they still found the net five times, so we have to show a certain amount of caution."

Being United's first competitive game of the season, Kane admits they did run out of legs over the last 15 minutes or so.

"You could tell they (Runavik) were 13 or 14 games into their season," he said. "But we equipped ourselves very well. Over the last quarter of an hour, you could tell it was our first competitive game.

"They liked to get the ball into the box early on and then hope for the knock down or a break - they certainly liked to feed off the big men up top.

"The big No.10 (Klaemint Olsen) is the Faroe Islands' national team striker. He was good on the night, but we handled him.

"We were a wee bit cagey at the start - we didn't quite know what to expect. Although it was scoreless at half-time, we could have been one or two up.

"Lee (Millar) had a good chance and, on another day, the referee may have given a penalty when big (Adam) Lecky was brought down.

"He is such a big man and is difficult to handle, so often he doesn't get decisions like that.

"We got two early goals after the break, but it took a brilliant save from Ross Glendinning to prevent them from nicking an away goal.

"It was such a good night - our first European game at home for a long time and the fans came out in big numbers. It would be great to get the job done.

"There is a massive incentive to face Malmo, especially the financial rewards. But our focus is on getting over this game."

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