Bangor are mashed by Swedes

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The Independent Football

When you need eight away goals you might as well state the obvious. "If we cut out the mistakes, we will give them a better game," said Bangor's manager, Meirion Appleton, after the first leg of this Uefa Cup qualifying round here last night. Precisely.

When you need eight away goals you might as well state the obvious. "If we cut out the mistakes, we will give them a better game," said Bangor's manager, Meirion Appleton, after the first leg of this Uefa Cup qualifying round here last night. Precisely.

The Swedes did their job ruthlessly enough to ensure that the League of Wales side will use the return leg to explore the salmon rivers, the golf courses and the blue-flag beaches of Halmstad - all fetchingly described in the match programme - rather than overturning this result.

Bangor's only ambition is to avoid the heaviest aggregatedefeat by a Welsh club in European competition: the 10-1 mauling Barry Town suffered at Dynamo Kiev's hands two years ago. The odds are against them.

Before kick-off Appleton had ventured the opinion that the Welsh Cup holders could compete. "Our technical ability is exceedingly high... It will be vital not to concede a goal and I am convinced we have the ability to retain possession for longperiods."

For the last hour, when Bangor conceded a goal roughly every eight minutes, none of this happened. There were mitigating circumstances, not least Paul Roberts' sending-off and the fact that this was Bangor's first competitive game. Halmstad, by contrast, had already played a dozen league matches and won nine of them to lead the Swedish First Division.

"Before we play these games we need some kind of tournament involving the three Welsh clubs that play in European football," said Appleton. "The League of Wales is in its infancy. It has made great strides but it needs to improve."

As Arsenal and Middlesbrough, who have both lost FA Cup ties here will confirm, Wrexham's Racecourse Ground, to where this match had been shifted, favours dark horses, although, appropriately, it was Halmstad who wore black. Even when Henrik Bertilsson tapped home the seventh you felt it could have been worse.

For the first half hour it seemed that Bangor, whose first European match ended in a proud victory over Napoli in 1962, might hold out. But, after 29 minutes, Robert Andersson's speculative shot squirmed through Andy Mulliner's gloves and two minutes later Appleton could start concentrating on the away trip to Connah's Quay Nomads rather than San Siro as Michael Svensson headed a corner home from close range.

Worse was to follow as Roberts, the only Bangor player who looked like he might manage a goal, ignored his manager's instructions for "controlled aggression" and signalled the start of a complete collapse begun by Torbjorn Arvidsson who headed in a routine cross for Halmstad's third.

Bangor could not avoid humiliation. Stefan Selakovic, without a goal since May, toyed with a couple of defenders and scored the kind of goal more usually seen on a training ground. He then slotted home the fifth and presented Bjorn Carlsson with the kind of chance Bjorn Borg would have fancied himself to put away.

Bangor City (3-5-2): Mulliner; Johnson, Rolands, Jardine; Foster (Owen, 82), S Williams, R Williams, Hughes (Comley-Excell, 78), Roberts; Coady (E Williams, 67), Bird. Substitutes not used: Cross, Hazelden.

Halmstad (4-4-2): H Svensson; Gustavsson, Arvidsson (Hansson, 74), Jonsson, Gustafson; F Andersson, Lennartsson (Nilsson, 56), Selakovic, Carlsson; R Andersson (Bertilsson, h-t), M Svensson. Substitutes not used: Johansson, Vennberg, Aubynn, Bjorklund.

Referee: O Timosejev (Estonia).

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