Belfast Telegraph

Lecky wants to sign off Malmo test in style

No quitting: Ballymena United frontman Adam Lecky
No quitting: Ballymena United frontman Adam Lecky

By Graham Luney

Ballymena United striker Adam Lecky wants his side to put on a brave show for the Sky Blues faithful tonight even though their Europa League dream is fading fast.

David Jeffrey's side welcome Swedish giants Malmo to the Showgrounds, a week on from their heavy 7-0 loss in the opening game of the first qualifying round tie.

It was a tough night at the office for the Braidmen, but not unexpected against a talented full-time side who are well into their campaign and looking strong.

Malmo will be quietly confident they can extend their advantage tonight but United will not want to bow out of Europe on the wrong end of a hammering.

Jeffrey's men can hold their heads high after recording the club's first European win - when Faroe Islands side NSI Runavik were overcome 2-0 on aggregate - but Malmo are a significant step up in class.

Despite the scoreline, a big crowd is expected at the Showgrounds where supporters will be keen to show the visitors and their supporters the same respect and warm welcome that greeted the United team in Sweden.

Lecky knows the European dream is slipping away but he is backing his team-mates to put in a performance to be proud of against Uwe Rosler's men.

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"It was good to make history and be part of that," said the frontman who was named in the Premiership Team of the Season.

"It's good to be a record breaker and hopefully we can get a few more wins next season.

"Malmo are very strong, the result tells you all about the game but we knew we faced a massive task. They did not let us down, they are a few levels above us.

"They regularly make the group stages of European competition and they are flying while midway through their season.

"It was going to be a huge challenge and we were outclassed.

"But I feel every player gave it everything and we never let ourselves down in that sense.

"There's nothing to be ashamed of. Although the tie is over, as a team we must show our pride and it should be a bumper crowd at the Showgrounds.

"It's important to limit the chances they have and put in a performance."

Entrance to the game is by ticket only and kick off is at 7:45pm.

The winner of the tie will face either NK Domzale of Slovenia or Balzan FC of Malta in the second qualifying round, with the Slovenians enjoying a 4-3 advantage after the first leg in Malta.

Lecky added: "It has been a bit of a slog, we have been back for six weeks so perhaps the guys will get a short break to recuperate before the season.

"The European games are great preparation. Nothing can compare to competitive matches when you are trying to be fit.

"Personally, I'm the style of player who must play games to feel match fit.

"There is only so much fitness you can get form training and gym work. I feel each game we are getting sharper so hopefully that carries into the new season."

• Northern Ireland's away friendly against the Czech Republic on October 14 has been confirmed for the Generali Arena in Prague.

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