Kilmarnock v Connah's Quay Nomads preview: Killie look to build on first leg advantage
Stuart Findlay celebrates his stoppage time winner infront of the travelling Killie fans. Source: GettyImages.

Kilmarnock will be hoping they can progress to the Second Qualifying Round of the Europa League on Thursday when they take on Connah's Quay Nomads.

The Ayrshire outfit are currently 2-1 up on aggregate following victory over the Welsh side in the first leg last week. 

A dramatic stoppage time winner from highly rated centre-back Stuart Findlay sealed the win for Angelo Alessio's side in his first game in charge as boss. 

What to expect?

The Nomads almost spent the entire game camped in their own half in the first leg. Andy Morrison's men looked to frustrate Killie and it was working. 

The visitors huffed and puffed but could not find a way through and to everyone's surprise they found themselves a goal down in the 76th minute.

Some slack defending from Killie led to Greg Taylor turning the ball into his own net. However, the visiting side battled on and showed great character to go on and win the game thanks to an Eamonn Brophy penalty and the dramatic stoppage time header from Findlay.

Due to the first leg result, the Nomads will have to try and attack Killie more in this game in order to stand a chance of progressing. However, this could allow the home side at Rugby Park to pick the Welsh minnows apart. 

It is also the home debut for new boss Alessio and a large crowd is expected which will only make it harder for Morrison's men.

Who to look out for

There are a few players in the Killie squad who will be itching to make a good impression on the new boss.

Dominic Thomas was handed a start in the first leg, although he may have been slightly disappointed with his performance. He will be hoping that he can put in a good performance at Rugby Park, similar to the excellent performances he put in whilst on loan at Scottish League One side Dumbarton last season.

The 23-year-old's exciting performances and excellent return of 15 goals in 26 games for the Sons earned him a League One Player of the Year nomination and he will be hoping he can prove to Alessio that he is good enough to become a permanent fixture in the Killie team.

Newly capped Scotland international Brophy will also be hoping he can get on the scoresheet again. The 23-year-old opened his account for the season in the first leg and he will be confident he can add to his tally on Thursday.

What the managers think 

Both bosses reflected on the first-leg result and looked ahead to Thursday's game. 

Nomads boss Morrison admitted losing the game so late on was tough to take and he conceded it will be hard to overcome such a blow. Speaking to the BBC, he said: "I've got to try and pick the lads up and try and pick myself up, because it's devastating, with the last kick of the game, to lose.

"For the club and the league, to come away with a 1-1 would have been fantastic but it wasn't to be."

Meanwhile, Killie boss Alessio was absolutely delighted with the fighting spirit his side showed in Wales. Alessio told Killie TV: "We knew that it would be a tough game and it was. We were ready for this kind of game and after their goal, we showed a good reaction and in the end, we won.

"I watched a lot of games from last season and I knew these players had plenty of character and they showed that today because it wasn't easy."

However, the Italian feels his side can play better and he is confident of a stronger performance at Rugby Park. He said: "We play a different type of football and it was difficult when they had 10 men behind the ball for the whole game. This was only the first leg, we have to play again next week.

"We have to prepare well for that match and while the tie is not finished, I think we can play better than we did."

The game will take place on Thursday, 18th July at Rugby Park. Kick off time is 19:45 (BST).

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