At 6:30pm on Thursday, Connah’s Quay will welcome Partizan Beograd to the Corbett Sports Stadium for their first leg matchup of the Europa League qualifiers. The hosts advanced to this point of the tournament by the skin of their teeth with a tight win over Kilmarnock last time around, while Partizan are joining the qualifiers for the first time this season and are in solid form as of late.
Connah’s Quay were defeated by Scottish side Kilmarnock in the first leg of their opening qualifier, suffering a 1-2 home loss on the night despite going in front with fifteen minutes remaining as Greg Taylor hit into his own net. With eighty-two minutes gone, Eamonn Brophy notched Kilmarnock’s equaliser from the penalty spot just before Stuart Findlay grabbed a late winner in the final minute of the game. That wasn’t the end of the tale between those two though, and Callum Morris ensured that the second leg would be very interesting when he scored in the fiftieth minute of the reverse fixture to make it 2-2 on aggregate and 0-1 on the night. Ten minutes from time, Michael Wilde got the all important goal to put Connah’s Quay in the lead and eventually, it was the winning strike.
Partizan are taking part in the Europa League for the first time this season due to their league position last campaign, and the Serbian side have been in good form. After a 0-1 victory in the cup final over FK Crvena Zvezda, Partizan went on to open their pre-season with a surprise 2-1 win against French team Bordeaux as Umar Sadiq and Strahinja Pavlovic got on the scoresheet on that occasion, sealing the win in spite of Raoul Bellanova’s late consolation for their opponents. More recently, Partizan defeated Indjija in their first league game of the season thanks to a Zoran Tosic goal after twenty-seven minutes, although they were reduced to ten men when Djordje Ivanovic was given his marching orders.
Connah’s Quay look set to have almost everyone fit and available for selection ahead of this vital clash which will be a big plus for fans and staff alike after such an impressive victory last time. Ryan Wignall is fit, however he will be forced to sit this one out due to his red card. In goal, we can see Lewis Brass continuing to hold his position behind a back four of Callum Roberts, George Horan, Daniel Holmes and John Disney. In midfield, Michael Bakare, Callum Morris, James Owen, Declan Poole and Nathan Woolfe will make up a five man guard of their back line. As a lone striker, Michael Wilde will try to score the goals.
Much like their opponents, Partizan Beograd should have their entire team ready for this meeting as the red card picked up by Ivanovic won’t carry over from the league to European competition. We can see them lining up with Vladimir Stojkovic as goalkeeper behind a back line of Miroslav Vulicevic, Bojan Ostojic, Igor Vijacic and Dominik Dinga. Zoran Tosic is expected to partner Milan Smiljanic, Goran Zakaric and Aleksandar Scekic in the centre of the park, with Ricardo Gomes and Umar Sadiq as the main attackers.
Partizan are the heavy favourites going into this one, and we can’t see Connah’s Quay overcoming this mighty task. The home side are likely to be put under plenty of pressure and forced to “park the bus”, so it won’t be a game full of chances or goals. For this reason, we’re opting for under 2.5 goals at 2.15 as our first tip. Secondly, we’re choosing Partizan to win and BTTS “No” at 1.72. Considering Connah’s Quay couldn’t even hold out against Kilmarnock, we don’t envision any way in which they can maintain a clean sheet versus a formidable opponent in Partizan Beograd. Our third and final recommended bet is Partizan Beograd to win by a two goal margin at 4.00 with Bet365, as Kilmarnock put two past Connah’s Quay in their opening encounter and we can’t see any way for the hosts to score here.