Edinburgh City have been handed a 500-mile round trip in the semi-finals of the Irn-Bru Cup after being drawn away to Welsh Premier League side Connah’s Quay Nomads.
James McDonaugh’s side saw off Championship side Alloa Athletic at Ainslie Park on Saturday, beating the Wasps on penalties after the match had finished 2-2 after 90 minutes.
Dario Zanatta and Alan Trouten had given Jim Goodwin’s side a two-goal lead after just 12 minutes but City hit back through Blair Henderson and Scott Shepherd to take the game to penalties.
Scott Taggart and Andy Graham missed for Alloa and although Trouten, Iain Flannigan and Dario Zanatta converted their spot kicks, the City quartet of Liam Henderson, Marc Laird, Allan Smith and Craig Thomson all scored to secure passage to the last four.
McDonaugh hailed his players after the game, saying: “These guys have taken us from being a goal away from being bottom of the league last Christmas to a semi-final of a national cup competition 11 months later.
“It’s a fantastic achievement. We can now put this one to bed until the new year but it’s brilliant to still be in a cup competition after Christmas.
“I just think the players deserve so much credit. We’re a small club and I just think sometimes they don’t get the praise they deserve. This team keep reaching new levels.”
Managed by Inverness-born former Plymouth, Blackpool, Huddersfield and Manchester City defender Andy Morrison, Connah’s Quay finished third in last season’s Welsh top flight behind The New Saints and Bangor City, although the runners-up were later relegated to the Cymru Alliance league after failing to obtain licences for the 2018/19 Welsh Premier League and 2018/19 UEFA Europa League competitions.
The 2017/18 Welsh Cup winners have competed in the Europa League on three occasions; beating Stabaek of Norway 1-0 on aggregate in the 2016/17 competition, before losing 3-1 on aggregate to Serbia’s Vojvodina Novi Sad in the second qualifying round.
The following season they lost by the same aggregate scoreline to HJK Helsinki of Finland, despite recording a 1-0 win at the Deeside Stadium, and this year they were knocked out at the first stage by Belarusian Premier League side Shaktyor Soligorsk.
Among the Connah’s Quay squad are Laurence Wilson, who was on Everton’s books as a youngster and was an unused substitute in a Champions League qualifier against Villarreal; Andy Owens, who came through the ranks at Liverpool and Stoke City; striker Nathan Wolfe, who featured for Bolton in a UEFA Cup last 16 match against Sporting Lisbon; ex-Manchester United and Nottingham Forest kid Joe Heath and journeyman striker Michael Bakare, who has had 17 previous clubs and has netted eight in 28 for the Nomads since joining from Warrington Town last year.
In the other semi-final, Ross County will play either East Fife or Bohemians in Dingwall.
Ties have been provisionally scheduled for the weekend of February 16/17.