Dundalk's Will Patching, Daniel Kelly and Raivis Jurkovskis celebrate with goalscorer David McMillan. James Crombie/INPHO

David McMillan makes history, as Dundalk get European run off to excellent start

The Irish side were playing against Newtown in the Uefa Europa Conference League First Qualifying Round First Leg.

Dundalk 4

Newtown AFC 0

DUNDALK BEAT Newtown 4-0 in the Uefa Europa Conference League First Qualifying Round First Leg this evening on a night to remember for David McMillan.

The 32-year-old striker was on target for his 12th European goal, putting him top of the all-time League of Ireland goalscorers’ list in Europe, one ahead of former Shelbourne and Bohs star Glen Crowe, whose record he equalled last November.

Michael Duffy gave the Irish side the lead with a tap-in from Daniel Kelly’s cross before McMillan headed home Darragh Leahy’s delivery to put his side firmly in control of the tie at the break.

A stunning second-half strike from Will Patching left their Welsh rivals with a mountain to climb before substitute Jeongwoo Han seemingly put the tie beyond doubt with an opportunistic finish in what was literally the last kick of the game.

Ahead of the match, Dundalk made two changes from their 3-1 loss to Shamrock Rovers on Friday.

Greg Sloggett dropped to the bench and Patrick Hoban was unavailable, with McMillan and Kelly handed starts in their place.

In the pre-game press conference, Dundalk boss Vinny Perth admitted to ”a lack of information on the opposition because they haven’t played in so long and they haven’t had loads of pre-season friendlies”.

A Covid outbreak within the respective camps upset both sides’ preparations for the game, though not to the extent that the fixture was ever under serious threat of being postponed.

Three Dundalk players were ruled out as a result, while up to four Newtown players also missed the encounter.

The away team, who went into the game as underdogs, had the first chance after six minutes. James Davies was left completely unmarked as a ball was lofted in, but his header was straight at Alessio Abibi.

Moments later, an audacious Patrick McEleney effort from distance flew just wide.

McEleney was in the thick of it again shortly thereafter. His header from Kelly’s cross forced a good save from goalkeeper David Jones. 

Kelly’s pace down the right was causing the Welsh side problems, while Dundalk looked increasingly dominant and controlled proceedings as the half wore on.

McMillan produced a powerful strike from distance that flew inches over just before the water break.

The striker was involved again a few minutes later, and Dundalk had the ball in the net, as Duffy slipped through McMillan, who finished coolly, only to be denied by the linesman’s flag.

But with 12 minutes of the first half remaining, Dundalk got the breakthrough that their play deserved, courtesy of a fine counter-attacking move.

McMillan flicked on a clever ball for Kelly to run on to, and the winger’s low cross found Duffy, who was left with a relatively simple finish.

The Lilywhites doubled their advantage five minutes later. Leahy delivered a pinpoint cross from the left and McMillan headed home for his landmark goal.

Newtown almost got one back just after the restart. Jamie Breese escaped the attentions of Sonni Nattestad, forcing Abibi into a good save, and the Lilywhites stopper had to be alert again moments later to deny Nicholas Rushton on the rebound, as he tipped the attempt over the bar.

From the ensuing corner, Kieran Mills-Evans went close with a header as the visitors provided a reminder that the tie was far from over.

Yet just after the hour mark, Dundalk responded with a stunning effort from about 30 yards out by Patching — the midfielder who spent the earlier part of the season on loan at Derry — following McMillan’s layoff.

Moments later, a similarly spectacular effort from Leahy sailed just wide, as Perth’s men threatened to run rampant.

Duffy was next up to try his luck from distance, though his strike was too close to Jones, as Dundalk, sensing their superiority, began to play with a bit of a swagger.

The last few minutes felt somewhat flat at times, as numerous substitutions were made. Newtown, still in their equivalent of pre-season, appeared to have little left in the tank, while Dundalk looked comfortable and content with their 3-0 advantage.

Yet out of nothing, in the dying seconds, Leahy flicked a deft chip through for the onrushing Jeongwoo Han, who made no mistake with the finish and sealed an emphatic win. 

The return leg in Wales takes place on Thursday next week, and provided they don’t become overly complacent, the Lilywhites look almost certain to progress.

Dundalk: 1. Alessio Abibi 13. Raivis Jurkovskis 4. Andy Boyle 6. Sonni Nattestad 15. Darragh Leahy 8. Sam Stanton 11. Patrick McEleney 7. Michael Duffy 18. Will Patching (Zahibo 80) 27. Daniel Kelly (Han 74) 29. David McMillan (Midtskogen 80)

Subs: 14. Peter Cherrie 30. Niall Brady 10. Greg Sloggett 17. Ole Erik Midtskogen 19. Wilfried Zahibo 25. Valentino Adedokun 28. Ryan O’Kane 31. Mark Hanratty 77. Jeongwoo Han

Newtown: 1. David Jones 3. Callum James Roberts 5. Kieran Mills-Evans 8. Nicholas Rushton (Downs 88) 9. Jamie Breese (Hesden 88) 10. Jordan Evans 11. James Davies  (Jones 88) 14. Aaron Williams 18. James Rowland (Mcallister 68) 19. Craig Williams 27. Alexander Fletcher

Subs: 13. Khan Steventon 21. David Terence Rose 4. Sean Mcallister 16. Dylan Downs 17. Ben Speaks 20. Rhys Hesden 22. Alfie Jones

Refereee: Barbeno Luca (SMR)

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