Connah's Quay Nomads vs Kilmarnock Europa League Preview
Kilmarnock players Gary Dicker, Stuart Findlay and Jamie MacDonald celebrate. Source: Gettyimages.

Connah's Quay Nomads vs Kilmarnock Europa League Preview

Welsh side Connah's Quay Nomads take on Kilmarnock in the Europa League First Qualifying Round on Thursday. 

Jordan Robertson

Welsh side Connah's Quay Nomads face a tough test on Thursday when they take on Scottish side Kilmarnock FC in the Europa League.

Heading into the game

The hosts, who are managed by ex-Manchester City man Andy Morrison, finished second in the Welsh Premier League in 2018-19.

They are no strangers to European competition, however they have never made it past the Second Qualifying Round. 

They will be aiming to progress but they face a very tough obstacle in Killie.

It is the Ayrshire side's first time in European competition in 18 years and they will be led by new boss Angelo Alessio.

The ex-Juventus, Chelsea and Italy assistant joined the Rugby Park side in the summer after legendary manager Steve Clarke left to take up the position of Scotland National Team boss.

Alessio has been joined in Ayrshire by ex-Celtic man Massimo Donati, who has joined as a coach whilst Scotland assistant boss Alex Dyer remains.

What to expect

The game may not be one for the purists. The Nomads are not known for playing scintillatingly eye-catching football and they tend to set out to be hard to beat.

Expect plenty of long throw-ins and fouls from the home side, who will aim to disrupt Killie's rhythm as much as they possibly can. 

It is also hard to tell what to expect from the visitors. Alessio's men have played two friendly matches against Gaz Metan and Dinamo Bucharest and they looked to press quickly and play the ball out from the back in both those games. However, they may not be given time on the ball in Wales and it is very likely that the ball will end up spending more time in the air than on the grass.

A battle to keep an eye on

There are a few battles that may be particularly interesting to keep an eye on during the game but one stands out from the rest.

Jamie Insall v Kirk Broadfoot

Insall is a man who may be vaguely familiar to those with an interest in Scottish football. The Englishman joined Hibernian in 2015 and enjoyed a few moderately successful loan spells at East Fife - the club where his career very nearly ended. After a match for the Fifers, Insall was pulled for a random drugs test, which he failed. The striker tested positive for Cocaine and was subsequently handed a two-year ban from football.

During his banned period, Insall took up bare-knuckle boxing and he is very confident in his ability to handle himself, on and off the pitch.

Speaking to the BBC, Insall stated: "When I was 19, I punched a bloke on a football pitch and broke his jaw. Around that age, I could look after myself. I was fighting and getting myself into trouble, I always fancied myself on the streets. 

"I had a go at it, fought someone who was an unbelievable boxer - Brandon Bates - I did well but got my nose broken and the fight was stopped. I'm 5ft 7in and he's 6ft 3in."

Insall is now back playing football for the Nomads having served his suspension and should he get on the pitch on Thursday it is very likely he will have to get the better of Killie centre-back Broadfoot.

Broadfoot, who famously made headlines for microwaving an egg and nearly blowing his face off, has proved himself to be an incredibly solid defender for the Ayrshire side. 

However, there is no doubt that he has a temper that can often land him and his team in trouble. The Killie hardman was sent off last season against Celtic and Aberdeen for late challenges on Scott Brown and Joe Lewis respectively. 

He has also been involved in incidents with Rangers midfielder Ryan Jack and ex-Hearts man Esmael Goncalves, so it will be interesting to see if he can keep his cool against fiery Insall.

A big crowd

There is a large travelling crowd expected in Wales for the game, with around 2000 Killie fans expected to make the trip. Many of those visiting fans will be travelling without tickets for the match itself which is being played at Rhyl's Bellvue Stadium. 

The game was originally planned to be played at Wrexham's Racecourse Ground but it was later ruled out due to a new surface being installed.

The Killie fans may get a chance to see new signing Laurentiu Branescu in action after he was named in Alessio's squad. The six foot five Romanian goalkeeper recently signed from Juventus on a one-year loan deal.

However, there was no place in the squad for fellow new signing Mohamed El Makrini, who will have to bide his time before appearing for the Ayrshire side. He has joined from Roda JC on an initial one year deal.

Match details

The match will kick off at 7:00 PM (BST) on Thursday, July 11. It will be played at Belle Vue Stadium, Rhyl and will be streamed live on S4c's website and Sgorio's Facebook page.