“Just touch and smash it. Anywhere would have done!”
Those were the thoughts going through Will Patching’s head when Patrick McEleney’s brilliant pass fell kindly into his path in the second minute of stoppage time at the Albert La Coq Arena on Thursday night.
Smash it he did, into the bottom corner to secure Dundalk a famous win and book a UEFA Europa Conference League third qualifying round clash with Vitesse Arnhem.
“It was a great ball by Fats, you know, it was perfect,” said Patching. “The pass made the goal. I just took a touch and I don’t think I even looked up. I just smashed it in!
“We weren’t at our best in the second half, we lost a bit of control, so it makes even better grabbing a late winner to go through the next round.
“Vitesse will be a good test now,” he added. “They are a quality team but Levadia are also a good team and we have shown tonight what we can do and we will put up a fight.”
After starting in a confident fashion, Dundalk fell behind to Ernest Agyiri’s first-half rocket but for the third time in the tie, they hauled themselves back on level terms through David McMillan who took his European goal haul to 14.
“It’s quality,” said Pathing when he was asked about McMillan’s record. “He gets them little tap ins and that’s what you want from your striker. Hopefully, he gets to continue it now.”
While the celebrations were in full swing in the dressing room afterwards, Patching made his way back out to the stadium to present his jersey to one of the three Dundalk fans who made the trip to the Baltic State to witness a glorious night.
“One of them made a big sign asking me for my shirt so Noel Walsh sorted me out. It was quality from them. They supported us all game and didn’t stop shouting which is exactly what we needed.”