THE New Saints boss Anthony Limbrick paid tribute to the Park Hall outfit’s academy after seeing his side record the biggest win in Europe for a team from the JD Cymru Premier.

While reigning Welsh champions Connah’s Quay Nomads slipped to a 4-1 Europa Conference League second qualifying round first leg reverse in Kosovo, Saints thrashed Lithuania’s Kauno Zalgiris 5-0.

Leo Smith scored his fifth goal in five European games inside the opening 10 minutes, Danny Davies added a brace and Declan McManus made it four before half-time out in Kaunas.

Jordan Williams completed the rout three minutes from the end to leave Saints fans eyeing up a tie with either the Czech Republic’s Viktoria Plzen or Dinamo Brest of Belarus.

“I’m really pleased for the players,” said Limbrick.

“I thought they were fantastic to be 4-0 up at half-time, keep that clean sheet in the second half and get another goal.

“From the forwards to the defenders, everyone mucked in, and that gave us a great platform to get something from the game.

“We talked about being clinical and ruthless in the attacking half, and we certainly were that.

“I know it sounds funny, but after winning 5-0, we do need to create more chances and get the ball in the box more from better build-up play.”

Limbrick praised the club’s academy which has produced a handful of players who have made their first-team debuts in Europe this season.

“The academy is doing ever so well,” he added.

“There’s a lot of players regularly coming to train with the first-team.

“The guys there are doing some great work and there’s some real talent coming through.

“Those players have got to be ready and doing well to come and play in this team.

“We’ve had Lewis Rees, Beau Cornish and Morgan Daykin making their first-team debuts in Europe, and maybe one other.

“It’s so important that these young guys get the experience of being on the biggest stage in these games. It’s really good for their development.”

The teams meet again in next Thursday’s second leg at Park Hall.

“The players were determined to finish the game off strongly, and we want to win at home,” said Limbrick.

“It was a great feeling last week when we won and got through against Glentoran.

“We want to keep up that record at home, and it’s important we put on a good show for the fans.

“We’ll make sure we’re on it and ready to perform.”

While Saints’ passage into the next round looks all but sewn up, Andy Morrison’s Nomads face a real uphill battle to go through.

Tom Moore’s second-half free-kick had got Nomads back in the game against Prishtina, before the hosts ran out 4-1 winners in the Kosovan capital.

Morrison will be hoping to have a bigger squad to choose from for the return leg next Thursday after Covid-19 hit their plans ahead of Tuesday’s encounter.

Meanwhile, former Wales international midfielder David Cotterill has joined Newtown after leaving Barry Town United.

Cardiff-born Cotterill, 33, started his professional career at Bristol City and played for the likes of Wigan Athletic, Sheffield United, Swansea City and Birmingham City before retiring in 2018.

He came out of retirement in January 2020 to play for Barry, departing Jenner Park last month.

“Happy to have signed for Newtown,” said Cotterill on social media.

“I want to keep enjoying it and felt this was the right fit for me. Let’s keep going until the legs pack in on me!”

Newtown boss Chris Hughes added: “I am delighted to get the signing over the line and David on board. His experience is just what we need and he also adds know-how to our squad.”