Metalurgs 3-3 Prestatyn Town on aggregate, Prestatyn win 4-3 on penalties
Prestatyn players celebrate their dramatic win
Prestatyn Town have won their Europa League 1st qualifying round match on penalties in Latvia, with two goals in the last 13 minutes, including Neil Gibson's dramatic injury-time leveller.
The match went to penalties and the Seasiders were faultless as goalscorers Gibson and Stephens scored before Sean Hessey and Andy Parkinson. Jur?is Kalns missed the first Metalurgs penalty before Janis Ikaunieks fired the final kick over the bar to start the delirious celebrations in Liepaja.
Leading 2-1 from the match in Rhyl last week, the hosts had the better of the opening fifteen minutes with chances through Ikaunieks and Šad?ins. The pressure counted on 17 minutes as experienced midfielder Val?rijs Afanasjevs beat Dave Roberts from an Ikaunieks assist, to make it 1-0 to the hosts at the Daugava Stadium.
After 26 minutes, Town had their best chance to date as Andy Parkinson had a one-on-one chance with Metalurgs 'keeper Raivo Varainskis, but the keeper saved. Prestatyn continued to battle away to give themselves hope before the break, but their luck was eluding them as first Mike Parker hit the woodwork and then Neil Gibson's corner was headed by Parker, who could only put it over the bar. The whistle blew for the break and the Seasiders trailed 1-0 on the evening, 3-1 on aggregate.
Town continued to pressure after the break and Chris Davies had the first chance, but he was denied. Ikaunieks of Metalurgs was then booked for a foul on the busy Parker, but the midfielder missed the target from the resulting free-kick.
The hosts were then reduced to ten men as they received their second yellow card of the competition. Veteran defender Dzintars Zirnis, 36, received a second yellow card and was sent off, which turned the match.
Town were back in the game with 13 minutes to play as Ross Stephens equalised on the evening, following a Chris Davies assist and that meant that they were 3-2 down on aggregate.
Then, in the first minute of injury-time, there was real drama as Parkinson fed Gibson, who scored to make it 2-1 on the night and 3-3 on aggregate. Varainskis, the Liep?jas Metalurgs keeper, then had to make a fine save from Gibson in the sixth minute of additional time to keep his side in it, before the referee blew for then end of normal time, which meant extra-time.
There were chances at both ends in the extra-time, the best perhaps a last gasp header from Ikaunieks, but 'keeper Dave Roberts made a fine instinctive save to take the game to penalties.
Prestatyn Town will now face Croatian side HNK Rijeka next Thursday and have banked another €130,000 for progressing, taking their Europa League prize money up to €250,000.
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