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Europa Conference League: Larne earn historic victory while Glentoran draw and Coleraine keep tie alive ahead of second legs

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David McDaid, Jamie McDonagh and Ben Doherty were on target for their sides in the opening Europa Conference League matches.

David McDaid, Jamie McDonagh and Ben Doherty were on target for their sides in the opening Europa Conference League matches.

Larne's David McDaid netted the club's first ever goal in European competition. Pic: Zac Goodwin/PA Wire.

Larne's David McDaid netted the club's first ever goal in European competition. Pic: Zac Goodwin/PA Wire.

PA

Glentoran's Jamie Mcdonagh (centre) celebrates with his team-mates after scoring their side's first goal of the game during the UEFA Europa Conference League first qualifying round, first leg match at The Oval, Belfast. Picture date: Thursday July 8, 2021. PA Photo. See PA Story SOCCER Glentoran. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire.
 
RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only, no commercial use without prior consent from rights holder.

Glentoran's Jamie Mcdonagh (centre) celebrates with his team-mates after scoring their side's first goal of the game during the UEFA Europa Conference League first qualifying round, first leg match at The Oval, Belfast. Picture date: Thursday July 8, 2021. PA Photo. See PA Story SOCCER Glentoran. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only, no commercial use without prior consent from rights holder.

PA

Glentoran's Malachy Smith (left) and The New Saints' Adrian Cieslewicz battle at the Oval. Pic: Liam McBurney/PA Wire.

Glentoran's Malachy Smith (left) and The New Saints' Adrian Cieslewicz battle at the Oval. Pic: Liam McBurney/PA Wire.

PA

Oran Kearney, Mick McDermott and Tiernan Lynch are out to earn their sides another lucrative round of European action. Pics: Pacemaker

Oran Kearney, Mick McDermott and Tiernan Lynch are out to earn their sides another lucrative round of European action. Pics: Pacemaker

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David McDaid, Jamie McDonagh and Ben Doherty were on target for their sides in the opening Europa Conference League matches.

Larne can now boast of a 100 per cent record in European football after David McDaid's strike earned a 1-0 win over Bala Town in Wales.

It was the club's first ever game in continental competition and ended with Tiernan Lynch's side taking a deserved advantage into next Thursday's second leg.

Elsewhere, Glentoran came from behind to earn a 1-1 draw with TNS at the Oval, substitute Jamie McDonagh on target, while ten-man Coleraine went down 2-1 to FK Velez Mostar in Bosnia despite Ben Doherty giving the Bannsiders an early lead.

Progression in these ties is worth an additional €300k to each side as it would take their overall European earnings to at least €550k for the season.

Here's everything you need to know about tonight's games:

Bala Town 0-1 Larne

David McDaid made Larne's first ever game in European competition one to remember as his early goal separated the sides in Wales.

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It was a thoroughly deserved victory after an impressive performance and Larne could even be left feeling they should be stepping back onto the plane with an even more convincing victory.

The goal arrived less than two minutes in, McDaid's delicious lob on the end of an inch-perfect pass from Andrew Mitchell nestling into the back of the net. Mitchell launched a half-volley up the centre of the pitch that evaded the last defender Anthony Stephens by inches and set McDaid racing clear to lob effortlessly over the goalkeeper from the edge of the box.

The hosts, featuring former Wales international Dave Edwards in midfield, bossed large swathes of the opening exchanges but struggled to really test Rohan Ferguson, who made one impressive save while Mitchell fired over the bar at the other end.

Larne had strengthened as the half progressed and dominated the second period, creating enough opportunities to have strengthened their lead.

There was a penalty call when Mitchell's free-kick bounced up and struck the arm of a defender while the outstanding Conor McKendry's corner kick had to be clawed away before it could curl inside the far post. Ronan Hale also had an opportunity as he was fed by McKendry's break but his shot could only hit the side netting.

All in all, Tiernan Lynch's team will go into next week's second leg as favourites to progress but will hope they don't live to rue not putting Bala to the sword when they had the chance. Kick-off at Inver Park next Thursday is at 7.30pm.

Glentoran 1-1 TNS

Glentoran came back from 1-0 down at the break to grab a draw at the Oval and in the end will be disappointed not to have found a late winner.

It would have been deserved for a largely dominant display against their Welsh visitors but, trailing for so long, they'll be relieved at least not to be behind ahead of next Thursday's second leg across the Irish Sea (kick-off 6.15pm).

TNS led at half-time through Leo Smith's weaving run and finish. He skipped his way past Rory Donnelly, Rhys Marshall, Marcus Kane and Paddy McClean before slotting home past Dayle Coleing, whose poor kick-out had put the hosts under pressure.

The chance to level came on the stroke of half-time when Robbie McDaid was played through on goal but somehow shot wide when the skilled goal-scorer seemed destined to score.

The Glens continued to put on the pressure throughout the second half, substitute Andrew Mitchell going close with his first touch when his flicked header on a corner was well stopped.

It proved to be an inspired double substitution by boss Mick McDermott as it was Jamie McDonagh who deservedly levelled with eight minutes left on the clock. The former Derry City attacker was lively on the right wing and, moments after he'd seen a poked shot saved, he was fed in by McDaid, beat the keeper to the ball and slammed home for the hosts.

There should even have been a winner in injury-time as Rhys Marshall got on the end of Conor McMenamin's delivery but headed agonisingly wide of the bottom corner.

FK Velez Mostar 2-1 Coleraine

Coleraine kept their chances of progression alive despite playing the final 25 minutes with only 10 men in Bosnia.

It had all started so well as Ben Doherty opened the scores on nine minutes with the most beautiful, arrowed finish beyond the goalkeeper and into the bottom corner after he led a swift breakaway.

However, the hosts went straight about finding the equaliser and Nemanja Andusic had troubled Gareth Deane before the leveller arrived in contentious circumstances. Aaron Traynor was adjudged to have handled when he flung himself in to block a shot and Brandao De Souza sent Deane the wrong way from the penalty spot to bring the hosts level at the break.

Despite Coleraine limiting Velez to long range effort for much of the second half, one passage of play had a telling impact on the tie.

A slack header back towards Gareth Deane was intercepted by the hosts and with the defence exposed, Lyndon Kane handled a shot on the line. That earned him a straight red card and Velez another penalty, duly dispatched by De Souza to give his side side the lead and send the topless ultras into a frenzy.

Given the circumstances, the long trip and the 30 degree heat, Coleraine will be pleased to have kept the tie alive ahead of next Thursday's second leg. It will take place at Glenavon's Mourneview Park as the synthetic surface is currently being laid at the Showgrounds. Kick-off is at 7.45pm.

Keep up to date with all three games right here on our live blog:


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