Steve Gerrard will be at pains to ensure that there is no complacency within the Glasgow Rangers ranks when he takes his side to face minnows St Joseph’s in their first qualifying round first leg of the Europa League.
The Gers’ fixture against the Gibraltar side has been changed to next Tuesday (July 9) from the Thursday to allow fellow British overseas territory side Europa FC take on Polish side Legia Warsaw in the same competition on that day. St Joseph’s overcame nine-man Kosovo team Prishtina with a 2-0 scoreline on Tuesday to bag a 3-1 aggregate victory and set up the clash with the Ibrox giants.
Gerrard gets the chance to run the rule over his new signings in the game and will be keen for the likes of Matt Edmundson, Jake Hastie, Jordan Jones, Sheyi Ojo and Greg Stewart to get some game time.
Meanwhile, Irish League side Cliftonville bagged a decent sum of money and progressed into the Europa League first qualifying round with an efficient 4-0 second-leg thumping of Barry Town at Solitude last night. The win means Cliftonville pocket at least £410,000 so far in this European campaign. Their advancement came after the first leg had finished 0-0 but Cliftonville ran riot in the home leg and will now go up against Norwegian outfit Haugesund. Two goals from Conor McMenamin and one apiece from Joe Gormley and Rory Donnelly secured the win. Cliftonville chief Paddy McLaughlin will waste little time in checking up on his outfit’s next opponents, Haugesund. He said:
“It goes without saying that we will check out their fixtures and who they have been playing, beyond that we haven’t thought about them so the homework starts now.”
Fellow Irish League side Ballymena United are also in the next round after collecting a 2-0 aggregate victory over Faroe Islands Premier League side NSI Runavik.
Elsewhere, Cardiff Met exited the competition on the away goals even though they chalked up a preliminary round second leg victory when they hosted Progres Niederkorn. The home side saw Jordan Lam give them the lead to square up the scores then a penalty was tucked away by Dylan Rees after the break to double the advantage. But the visitors clawed their way back into the frame when Mayron de Almeida’s vital away strike brought the aggregate score level and Progres progressed.
Luxembourg outfit Progres will go head to head with Cork City in the next round. Cardiff Met chief Christian Edwards said his side’s journey had been “a fantastic experience” and spoke of his pride at taking part in such a prestigious tournament, adding:
“I’m not into celebrating losses because ultimately we’ve lost the tie on away goals but I’m very, very proud.”