Connah’s Quay were handed a 2-0 defeat on their Champions League qualification debut by a clinical FK Sarajevo.
Two defence lapses proved costly for the Nomads as lively forward Benjamin Tatar pounced on two chances to end their Champions League hopes.
At an empty Cardiff City Stadium, Connah’s Quay were unable to convert spells of second half pressure before Sarajevo struck a killer blow against the run of the play.
Andy Morrison’s side will now drop down into Europa League qualifiers where they will be looking to build on an encouraging yet frustrating display.
FK Sarajevo came into the tie with a handful of competitive domestic games under their belts and so it proved as they dominated possession in the early stages.
Yet with little impact on the game early on, it was Connah’s Quay who had the game’s first clear cut opportunity as Michael Wilde headed a delivery from Danny Holmes just wide of the target.
The Nomads looked disciplined and well organised until the quarter hour mark when they paid the price for a defensive lapse in concentration that allowed Tatar to slip through on goal with time and space to comfortably go around Lewis Brass, and stroke the ball into the open net.
Angled deliveries towards the far post seemed to be Connah’s Quay’s best attacking hope although the Sarajevo defence showed good positioning and organisation to snuff out the threat.
The visitors appeared content to retaining possession at a measured tempo at the half-way line as the interval neared, but the introduction of Sameron Dool saw Connah’s Quay take a more positive approach and attacked with renewed vigour.
Despite being on the front foot and probing for an equaliser, the threat of Sarajevo break remained a persistent worry to the Welsh side and Danny Holmes was lift with little option but to clatter Ivan Luckic outside the box, as he charged towards goal. Amar Rahmanovic resulting free-kick deflecting narrowly wide leaving Brass flat-footed and relieved.
At the other end, the threat from Connah’s Quay continued to grow but never materialised into the goal they needed, then on 65 minutes Tata pounced on a breakaway, getting between two defenders to slot in his second goal of the night past Brass.
The Nomads attacking efforts remained fruitless as they struggled to produce the moment of quality needed in front of goal.
George Horan stabbed the ball over from five yards after John Disney had knocked down Roberts’ threatening cross as they continued to press, before another Sarajevo counter saw Haris Handzic fire wide.