Colin Coates confident Crusaders can complete mission in Europa League against Levadia Tallinn

Crusaders' Paul Heatley in action with Levadia Tallinn's Marin Pavel
Crusaders' Paul Heatley in action with Levadia Tallinn's Marin Pavel

Crusaders skipper Colin Coates believes his team can triumph in Estonia next week – but he’ll not be there to enjoy it!

The Danske Bank Premiership title holders battled out a scoreless draw with FC Levadia Tallinn at Seaview on Tuesday night, leaving them with a difficult return in this Champions League first qualifying round.

However, Coates insists the Crues have the firepower to finish the job.

“To be honest, I didn’t see anything to be frightened of in the first leg,” he said. “I thought we had enough chances to win the game.

“Unfortunately, I’ll miss the second leg due to holidays. I’m really gutted.

“But my wife is a school teacher and we are limited in terms of dates for arranging holidays. The European games are being played earlier for some reason this season which didn’t help.

“So we had to make a decision to go when my wife finished work, or wait until late July, which isn’t ideal because that is really the countdown to the start of the domestic season.”

Coates, however, is confident the Crues’ European romance can continue.

“I thought we did really well against full time opposition taking into account we didn’t start back training again on June 20 – we’ve basically had nine days training.

“We were without doubt the better team – we certainly created the most clear cut chances.

“Our goalkeeper, Sean O’Neill, really didn’t have an awful lot to do. I thought we controlled the game. Perhaps on reflection, we could have gambled a little bit more in terms of going for the win. We watched videos of the Estonians and they played exactly how we thought they would.

“They were there for the taking, but as the game progressed, our fitness levels started to wilt – we began to get a little bit leggy. We certainly didn’t want to get caught out at the back late on.

“So the clean sheet was vital. If we can get a goal over there, it will certainly put them under pressure. The game is set up nicely for next week.”

Coates was also high in praise of the Crues new boys, Andy Mitchell, Michael Carvill and Jordan Forsythe, who was a late substitute.

“I thought Andy was outstanding,” he added. “He got through an enormous amount of work, as did Michael – he put in a great shift.

“He was up against a defender who has quite a few caps for Estonia, but Michael did a super job on him.”