Europa Conference League First Qualifying Round, First Leg 

Dunajská Streda 2-1 Cliftonville

Cliftonville remain very much in their first round Europa Conference League qualifying round tie with Dunajská Streda after suffering a narrow 2-1 defeat to their Slovakian remain alive in Europe after narrow opponents at the DAC Arena on Thursday evening.

Rego Szantho’s opener was cancelled out by debutant Ronan Hale as the Reds went in at the break level, though Nikola Krstović swept home approaching the midway point in the second half to ensure the Slovakian’s well jet to Belfast with the advantage- despite seeing out the last ten minutes a man light when substitute Brahim Moumou was dismissed.

Reds boss Paddy McLaughlin named three debutants in his starting eleven as new signings Fynn Talley, Stephen Mallon and Ronan Hale made their competitive debuts at the DAC Arena. 

The hosts began the game on the front foot with Dominik Kruzliak testing Reds' goalkeeper Fynn Talley with a free-kick that he pushed over and behind but the subsequent corner came to nothing.

It took the Reds 13 minutes to force their first attack of the evening as Jamie McDonagh almost exploited space down the right channel and he fed the ball into Ronan Hale, though the lone front man lost possession inside the area.

Kruzliak again went close a few minutes from a pinpoint corner by Rego Szantho and Milan Dilmun then shot wide of the target.

Cliftonville 'keeper Talley had to backpedal and tip a dangerous floated ball from Erick Davis’ behind for a corner approaching the halfway point in the first period.

The pressure eventually told on the Solitude outfit as Dunajská made the breakthrough after 25 minutes.

Rego Szantho was afforded too much space and was allowed to steer a low effort past Talley and into the net to make it 1-0.

But the Reds weren’t behind for long and hit back within three minutes as Stephen Mallon showed great footwork to slip the ball to Jamie McDonagh and his cross fell nicely to Ronan Hale to bundle home the equaliser on his competitive debut for the club.

Dunajská tried to restore the lead before the break, but Yhoan Andzouana flashed an effort over after Szantho’s corner was half-cleared.

Ronan Hale then had the chance to double his advantage after pressing high upfield and winning the ball back, but he shot over the bar and at the interval it was level pegging.

The second period began with Dunajská threatening a second, a period of sustained pressure saw a spate of pinball around the Reds area and Szantho saw his hooked shot cleared off the line by Jonny Addis.

Nikola Krstoivić let fly with a low near-post shot that Talley dealt with well on the hour mark, but five minutes later he would restore his side's lead, sweeping home from Veselovsky’s low cross to make it 2-1.

Hale tried to immediately level for the second time with a snapshot that Daniel Veszelinov dealt with easily.

As Cliftonville sought an equaliser, they were afforded the numerical advantage for the final eight minutes plus injury-time when Dunajská substitute Brahim Moumou sythed down Chris Curran and was shown a straight red card by Spanish referee Juan Martinez Munuera.

The Reds were unable to make the most of their advantage and fell to a narrow 2-1 defeat, but will are still very much in the tie in front of their home support next Thursday evening.

Dunajská Streda: Veszelinov, Dimun, Valor, Andzouana (Balogh 62),Veselovsky (Moumou 70’), Blackman, Davis, Krstovic (Ciganiks 87), Káčer, Szanthó (Hahn 61).

Cliftonville: Talley, Lowe, Addis, Turner, Ives, McDonagh (C Curran 71), Gallagher, Doherty, Mallon (Rory Hale 71), Ronan Hale, R Curran (Gormley 86).

Referee: Juan Martinez Manuera (Spain)