KILMARNOCK recovered from staring at humiliation in Wales when they netted twice inside the last nine minutes as an Eamonn Brophy penalty and an injury-time header from Stuart Findlay handed new manager Angelo Alessio a victory in his debut match as his side won their European tie for 18 years.

Despite Killie dominating almost completely in Rhyl, they failed to deal with Nomads' massed defence and robust style. And it looked like they were heading for a dreadful defeat when Greg Taylor turned a cross into his own goal with 15 minutes left.

But with time running out, Killie were awarded a penalty and Scotland striker Brophy converted before Findlay headed in a dramatic late winner as they started life after Steve Clarke with a win.


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Kilmarnock will be deeply relieved after an uncomfortable evening against the Welsh Premier League side, who they struggled badly to break down. However, they will be strong favourites to finish the job next week in Rugby Park and earn a tie against Partizan Belgrade.

Killie were only officially allocated 802 tickets from the 1,464-capacity Bell Vue stadium, home of Rhyl FC, but many more had travelled to North Wales and some had found ingenious ways of gaining entry – the match ball was sponsored by a group of Killie supporters!

It was the tightest and most compact of venues and the bumpy, rock-hard pitch completed the ingredients of what could have led to an upset.

Alessio's first team sheet was very much in an 'as you were' direction from his predecessor, with perhaps the only surprise being goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald getting the nod ahead of on-loan Juventus keeper Laurentiu Branescu. Fellow new signing Mohamed El Makrini was also on the bench. Dom Thomas was handed another chance too after an impressive loan spell with Dumbarton last season.

Certainly, Kilmarnock started extremely positively and forced a couple of corners in the opening five minutes and Rory McKenzie fizzed a 25-yard effort too high. There was little doubting Nomads' approach either with plenty of meaty challenges early on.

Thomas had an a chance to make an early impression on Alessio when he found space to latch on to a Stephen O'Donnell through pass, but he failed to wrap his leg round the ball and was off balance with his eventual effort skidding wide.


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The Welsh side were content to plant everyone behind the ball and any forward moves tended to be of the very basic variety. But they were competent at defending as Brophy found out when he saw an attempt in the box blocked by Danny Holmes.

Although Killie were dictating matters, they were finding it difficult to unlock the massed ranks of the Nomads defence and create any real clear-cut chances. O'Donnell was thwarted on the half-hour mark by another excellent block, this time by home captain George Horan. Connah's Quay keeper Lewis Brass was already being warned by the Belgian ref at this stage for time wasting.

Killie stepped it up as the first half came to a close with Brophy firing just wide and the Scots were also denied a strong shout for a penalty when a Thomas cross appeared to strike the arm of Declan Poole, but they failed to make the breakthrough.

The half ended on an unsavoury note with home keeper Brass unhappy with the Killie supporters behind his goal as he took issue with some of their chanting towards him.

The second half increasingly resembled an attack v defence training exercise with Killie having ridiculous amounts of possession, but struggling to find a cutting edge of creativity to penetrate the home side.

Brass got his revenge on those Killie fans when he pulled off a fantastic save from a deflected Stephen O'Donnell effort when he showed terrific reflections to somehow scoop the ball onto the junction of the bar and post after a Chris Burke corner. However, it had taken almost an hour for Brass to make a save of note.


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Killie introduced El Makrini in a bid to give some extra thrust going forward, but they were starting to get increasingly frustrated and run out of attacking ideas and they were hit by a massive hammer blow with 15 minutes to go when Connah's Quay opened the scoring.

A rare break forward saw Connah's Quay sweep the ball wide to Callum Roberts and his cross was turned into his own goal by Grey Taylor who was under pressure, but had to do better.

The goal completely took the wind out of Killie's sails and they were now staring down the real prospect of humiliation, but they were given a lifeline with nine minutes to go when they were awarded a penalty after Roberts stumbled into Burke in the box. Brophy stepped up to rattle the resulting spot kick down the middle and level matters.

Killie went all out for the win their possession deserved at least as Connah's Quay visibly wilted and they got it with practically their last act in the game when Findlay was unmarked from a Burke corner and nodded in an injury time winner.