Scott Quigley’s turned in another impressive European display as he helped The New Saints advance to the Champions League second qualifying round, with the Welsh club needing extra-time to eliminate Europa FC.
The Saints finished a cagey opening period strongly scoring twice before half-time to cancel out Europa’s first leg advantage.
Quigley was involved in the first, appearing to guide Ryan Brobbel’s cross beyond the Europa goalkeeper, before it was adjudged that defender Ivan Moya got the decisive touch deeming it an own goal.
Minutes later Quigley was officially on the scoresheet, tapping in unmarked to finish off a well-worked TNS second.
Liam Walker’s penalty shortly after the restart put the hosts back on level terms but The New Saints gained a huge advantage when Kike Gomez and dangerman Alex Quillo picked up successive red cards in the 58th and 59th-minute, reducing Europa to nine men.
Seeking the goal which would decide the tie, The New Saints struggled to make their numerical advantage count and were frustrated for long periods by Europa who defended resolutely deep into extra-time.
It took until the 105th minute for The New Saints to finally make the breakthrough and it was Quigley again who made the difference, this time sending a curling left-footed finish into the bottom corner from 20 yards to send the Saints through.
The striker has been the decisive player in both legs against Europa and there will be increased interest in his performance in the next round against Rijeka.
Quigley was restricted to just 11 league starts last season, scoring 8 times but even 12 months ago there was a sense from those within the The New Saints camp that he was capable of producing a lot more.
Should the 24-year old finally have the breakout season that those around him have been anticipating, it will not go unnoticed.
Last season more than ever, clubs from over the border paid close attention to players in the WPL and one unnamed agent I spoke to feels that it is a trend which is likely to grow.
“There has been a lot of snobbery from clubs in the English leagues who have long looked down at the Welsh Premier but that is beginning to change,” he said.
“They are starting to realise that there has been a marked increase in professionalism across the division and the talent is there (in the WPL).
“Clubs in England are looking for value and they are increasingly viewing the WPL as a good breeding ground for young talent.”
Both last season’s Player and Young Player of the Season (Jason Oswell and Henry Jones) have moved to clubs in the English system, whilst Manager of the Year Craig Harrison was finally given his chance with Hartlepool United.
If Scott Quigley continues to produce on the continental stage and domestically, he could easily become another high profile export from the Welsh Premier League into the English system.
The New Saints of course would have to be agreeable to any such move but it is unlikely the club would stand in the way of the player progressing, should their asking price be met.
Perhaps tongue-in-cheek, Connah’s Quay owner Gary Dewhurst tweeted last night that he could’ve signed Quigley for £100,000 from the Saints twelve months ago. Should he maintain his form, that figure is almost certainly going to be increased.
You should be his agent Marc…20% all round…
Can't believe we could have bought him for just £100,000 last year…
Superb finisher! https://t.co/vuF4QF81ww
— Gary Dewhurst (@gdgap) July 4, 2017
Featured image courtesy of TNS FC