Cardiff Met University 2- 1 Progrès Niederkorn
(2-2 on aggregate, Progres go through on away goals)
The Progres penalty box represented a scene from the Alamo as Cardiff Met tried to batter their way to Europa League glory in the final, frantic five minutes at Leckwith Stadium.
The students must have thought they were in dream land when Jordan Lam scored within two minutes of the start of the second leg against the Luxembourg side to level the tie at 1-1. Things got even better when they were awarded a penalty just over an hour later.
Down went substitute Mael Davies, up stepped full back Dylan Rees and in went the goal that put the University side ahead. Dream land indeed!
But no sooner had they seemingly put one foot into the next round, and looked to get their hands on another pot of cash, than the man who had punished their one lapse in the first leg, Belgian forward Mayron de Almeida, struck for the second week running.
Five minutes after his side looked like they were going out, he threw them a lifeline as he stole in on the blindside of a tiring Met defence to side-foot the ball past William Fuller in the home goal.
Not even that could deter the brave boys in maroon, though, as they peppered the Progres goal in the five minutes of added time and forced goalkeeper Seb Flauss to make two full length saves to keep his side on course for the next round.
Chris Baker was the first to make Flauss earn his corn and then the highly impressive Kyle McCarthy hammered a shot on target that made him make an even better save. It was an incredible ending to a red-blooded contest that Met deserved to win, yet still failed to progress
Jordan Lam may not have been a hit at Newport County and Hereford United, but he didn’t miss when it mattered most on his return to the Cardiff Met side as he scored within two minutes of his first start for the students in almost 18 months.
The 24-year-old put his side on level terms with Luxembourg side FC Progres Niederkorn in their Europa League preliminary qualifying match at Leckwith Stadium as he headed home a pin-point cross from Kyle McCarthy.
It was the perfect start for the home side as they wiped out the 62nd goal they conceded in the away leg a week earlier and gave them hope of extending their European adventure and earning a clash with Cork City in the next round.
But after flexing their muscles at one end of the field, the rest of the half was spent on hemmed into their own territory at the other end. Having struck early they decided to stay tight at the back and try to catch Progres on the break.
Will Fuller had to make two good saves and Progres skipper Sebastien Thill saw his snap shot deflected onto a post and away for a corner. As time wore on, so the frustration grew in the visiting ranks and the Cypriot referee gave goalkeeper Sebastien Flauss a yellow card after he ran 70 yards to get involved in a fracas.
The students hit the front on the 68th minute when Moel Davies was hauled down in the box and full back Rees kept his cool to score. Then came De Almeira’s strike to save the game for the Luxembourg side.
Goals: Cardiff Met: Lam (2), Rees (pen 68); Progres: De Almeida (73)
Met (4-3-3): Fuller; Rees, Lewis, Woolridge, Edwards; Baker, Corsby (Phillips 75), McCarthy; E Evans (Davies 58), W Evans, Lam (Parker 62)
Subs: Lang, Williams, Morgan, Flay
Progres (4-1-4-1): Flauss; Marques (Bastos 71), Skenderovic, Hall, Karayer; Vogel; Laterza, Muratovic (Ferino 88), Thill, De Almeida; Bah (Correia Santos 85)
Subs: Czekanowicz, Cervellera, Borges, Ramos
Referee: Loukas Sotiriou (Cyprus)