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big win Will Patching's late strike secures Vitesse tie and windfall for Dundalk

Levadia Tallinn 1 Dundalk 2 (Dundalk win 4-3 on aggregate)

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Dundalk's Sonni Nattestad embraces team-mate Darragh Leahy after the final whistle during the UEFA Europa Conference League second qualifying round second leg match between Ledavia and Dundalk at Lillekula Stadium in Tallinn, Estonia. Photo: Joosep Martinson/Sportsfile

Dundalk's Sonni Nattestad embraces team-mate Darragh Leahy after the final whistle during the UEFA Europa Conference League second qualifying round second leg match between Ledavia and Dundalk at Lillekula Stadium in Tallinn, Estonia. Photo: Joosep Martinson/Sportsfile

Dundalk's Sonni Nattestad embraces team-mate Darragh Leahy after the final whistle during the UEFA Europa Conference League second qualifying round second leg match between Ledavia and Dundalk at Lillekula Stadium in Tallinn, Estonia. Photo: Joosep Martinson/Sportsfile

Vinny Perth feels Dundalk’s victory over Levadia Tallinn in the Europa Conference League last night can be a “stepping stone” towards getting the club back to where it belongs.

Will Patching’s dramatic 92nd-minute winner at the A Le Coq Arena saw the Co Louth side continue their recent good form to set up a third qualifying round tie against Dutch side Vitesse next week.

It was the only time Dundalk led over the two legs having trailed twice in the 2-2 draw at Tallaght Stadium in the first leg and again last night when Patching’s former Man City team-mate Ernest Agyiri then gave the Estonians a 17th minute lead that was cancelled out by David McMillan on the stroke of half-time.

Perth feels the better side won in the end.

“We showed real bravery and I think we were the better side over the two legs,” he said.

“This club has stamped its name around Europe for many years, particularly in the last eight, and tonight is another big statement that Dundalk aren’t going away any time soon.

“Patching’s finish was outstanding and I’m just really chuffed for the players. They’ve got some criticism and been ridiculed but we’ve a good group of people who are fighting for each other and I think tonight is just another stepping stone towards getting this club back to where it belongs,” said Perth.

The visitors were on top right from the off but a long range strike from Sam Stanton was all they had to show for their early efforts before Levadia took the lead with their first shot in the 17th minute.

Zakaria Beglarishvili set Agyiri away down the left with the Ghanaian winger letting fly from the corner of the penalty area with a shot that flashed through the arms of Alessio Abibi

Dundalk were unlucky not to equalise in the 29th minute when Stanton had an effort spin over off the crossbar but the leveller would arrive on 44 minutes.

Karl Andre Vallner failed to deal with Darragh Leahy’s cross from the left with Raivis Jurkovskis and Greg Sloggett combining to keep the attack alive before the latter crossed to McMillan, who held off Milan Mitrović before firing to the bottom left hand corner to make it 1-1.

Stanton, Sonni Nattestad and Leahy all had half chances to grab the lead goal in the second half but when Patrick McEleney curled an effort just wide with a quarter of an hour to go the game looked destined for extra-time.

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Dundalk had other ideas though and in the second minute of additional time McEleney picked out the run of Patching who controlled superbly before rifling past Vallner to earn his side a €850,000 pay day and a trip to the Netherlands next week.

Levadia Tallinn – Vallner; Podholjuzin, Uggè, Mitrović, Ilić (Elhi 70); Lepistu; Liivak, Putinčanin, Vaštšuk (Roosnupp 34), Agyiri (Õigus 71); Beglarishvili (Kirss 65).

Dundalk – Abibi; Jurkovskis; Boyle, Nattestad, Leahy; Stanton (Zahibo 91), Sloggett; Kelly (Murray 70), Patching, McEleney; McMillan (Hoban 62).

Ref – Thorvaldur Árnason (Iceland).


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