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Swift Hesperange v The New Saints – Europa Conference League Preview

The New Saints will be keen to extend their European adventure for at least one more round when they take the field in Luxembourg on Tuesday night.

The domestically dominant Cymru Premier champions take on Swift Hesperange in the second leg of their Europa Conference League second qualifying round tie.

Some clubs might have been left deflated after dropping down from the Champions League, following a 5-1 aggregate defeat to Swedish club, BK Hacken.

But the Saints just got on with the job, which involved playing their part in an entertaining 1-1 draw at Park Hall in the first game.

Now, they have everything to play for, knowing any kind of victory will take them through to the third qualifying round.

If they get through that, they would be into the play-off round – just one game away from the 32-team group stage of a tournament won last season by West Ham.

The New Saints will be hoping for a better start to the tie than a week ago, when they fell behind to Swift Hesperange through a goal from Simao Martins after just 14 minutes.

Summer signing Rory Holden then managed to draw the Saints level and manager Craig Harrison will know his side had chances to win the game late on.

Holden featured as a substitute in each of TNS’s Champions League first round qualifying defeats to Swedish champions Hacken and could be a key player again in Luxembourg.

Having made 16 appearances in all competitions for League One outfit Port Vale last time out, there’s no doubting he has the credentials to aid the Saints in their quest to further add to their trophy cabinet across the coming months.

If the matchwinner is not to be Holden, then all eyes will be trained on striker Declan McManus.

The Scot has been a scoring machine since joining from Dunfermline Athletic for £60,000 two years ago and is targeting ending the upcoming campaign as the Cymru Premier’s top scorer for a third season running, although, with more goals to his name this time around.

The winner of this tie will move on to face either FC Struga from Macedonia or Buducnost Podgorica of Montenegro in the third qualifying round.

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