By Jonathan Caswell at the Racecourse Ground
Swedish second division side Östers IS are through to the UEFA Cup second qualifying round after beating Total Network Solutions FC in Wales with a late Freddy Söderberg goal.
Öster, who despite relegation last season won a place in the UEFA Cup via the Fair Play rankings, held a 2-0 lead from their home leg. And they kept their nerve to ensure TNS's seventh European campaign ends, like the others, at the first hurdle after their eighth defeat in eight mathces in this competition.
Tough home task
The tie was never really in doubt after Öster's new signing Pär Cederqvist coolly converted a Peter Wibrån cross in the eleventh minute as the TNS defence appealed that the ball had gone out of play. Öster now led 3-0 overall, and with the away goals rule it left the home side needing to score four times to claim the tie, which never looked likely.
Ken McKenna's side did show heart though and after their initial malaise they began to make inroads into the Swedish sides defence, forcing goalkeeper Claes Green into a number of saves. But Öster, who unlike TNS are well into their domestic season, looked sharp and the versatile Wibrån was instrumental in much of their play.
Indeed, after TNS had fleetingly threatened with Barry Hogan, James McGuire and Nicholas Ward all going close, the visitors began to control the game. The home team’s goalkeeper Gerard Doherty kept them in the match with a string of excellent saves, most notably from Johan Svensson and visiting captain Fredrik Gustafson. But as the second half wore on, TNS found frsh momentum and began pressing, particularly on the flanks through Simon Davies and Scott Ruscoe.
On 79 minutes, the lively Michael Wilde grabbed a consolation when his speculative shot bounced over Green to make it 1-1 on the night. However, as they pushed for the winner TNS were left exposed at the back and with a minute remaining Söderberg stole into the box, jinked past two defenders and shot in from 18 metres to confirm his side's place in Friday's draw.