Crusaders faced a race to catch the flight home from the Faroe Islands tonight - but had plenty of time up in the air to reflect on securing a dream Europa League date with Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Paul Heatley’s brace capped a 3-2 away success sparked by a Jordan Forsythe free-kick strike that handed the Crues victory over B36 Torshavn by 5-2 on aggregate.
That two-leg triumph secured double delight for Stephen Baxter and his players with the reward of a meeting against an English Premier League outfit the Crusaders boss considers a “once in a lifetime opportunity”.
Crusaders visit Wolves’ Molineux next Thursday in the second qualifying round before a return to Belfast on August 1 - with Baxter relishing the glamour tie he accepts is a “mammoth task”.
“You only get this opportunity once in a lifetime but we’ve fought to be there and now our fans will get the chance to see their players face a Premier League side at Seaview,” said Baxter after the Torshavn win. “We are going up against one of the greatest teams in England, a squad of top-class players from all over the world.
“Wolves are a brilliant side, they beat Newcastle United earlier in the week 4-0.
“But we go about it in the same manner as ever, we prepare as best we can.
“It’s a mammoth task but it’s not about that for us - today was our day in the sun.
“To get this opportunity to play Wolves by beating Thorshavn is brilliant for the club, so we will go and enjoy that result.
“We will go to Molineux and take all of that in before what is going to be a momentous occasion facing a Premier League team back at Seaview.”
Baxter highlighted the team ethic key to progress past Thorshavn.
“It was a total team performance, they were absolutely superb to a man,” he said. “The back four defended extremely well then we wanted to spring a counter-attack with the pace of Paul Heatley and Ross Clarke.
“Paul scored two goals, we might have had one or two more.
“Howard Beverland and Chris Hegarty were absolutely superb.
“I’ve known the quality and strengths of Chris for many years.
“He has all of the hallmarks of a captain and leader and those qualities were obvious from the first night.
“He puts his body on the line and is an excellent, excellent addition to our squad so I’m delighted to have Chris with us.
“Although it’s not about individuals from that performance
“I congratulated the whole team as the players were outstanding.
“We head home now tonight and want to get the boys rested after putting so much in.
“Then we’ll lift everyone back up into training and get ready.
“Wolves will be 10 grades above us and we know all of that but you can only prepare your own team.
“You try to set up a shape to contain Wolves as best as possible but we know the size of the task.”