THE sight of Greg Taylor lying prone on the Belle Vue turf after being upended by Callum Roberts will have told Kilmarnock all they needed to know about how this 180 minutes would be played.

Angelo Alessio said all of the right things in the post-match build up, but coming face-to-face with Andy Morrison’s snarling Nomads is a real eye opener.

“We have studied for two weeks, we have done our homework,” said Alessio on Wednesday night. “I am sure my players are ready for this match and ready to show our potential.”

Morrison, meanwhile, declared that Nomads had no fear ahead of proceedings and Roberts’ challenge on Scotland international Taylor summed up the home side’s thoughts towards their opponents.

You get nowhere in football by being polite and from the first minute until the last Nomads proved more than a match for their illustrious visitors, who huffed and puffed during the opening half.

A tame Rory McKenzie effort that curled harmlessly high and wide from distance aside, Nomads kept Kilmarnock at bay for the first quarter of the opening leg of this tie.

With Michael Wilde feeding on scraps in attack, Kilmarnock slowly turned the screw and carved out some promising chances, but crucially, none of the openings were converted into that all-important away goal.

Eamonn Brophy broke free of George Horan’s shackles as a Nomads’ corner resulted in the Kilmarnock number nine forcing Danny Holmes – surprisingly selected in the middle of a back four – making a crucial last ditch block.

Jamie McDonald, picked ahead of new Laurentiu Branescu in the Kilmarnock goal, was called into action as Wilde’s flicked header forced the stopper to dive low to his right.

In truth, the effort was probably going wide of the goal, but it showed that Nomads were not simply prepared to soak up wave after wave of Kilmarnock attacks without offering something at the other end.

Stephen O’Donnell and Brophy were the next Kilmarnock players to try their luck, and both will be wondering whether they could have hit the target from promising positions.

O’Donnell skipped inside after advancing from right-back before drilling an effort past Lewis Brass’s right upright, before Brophy did likewise from the opposite side.

Brass was irked by something said by the vocal Kilmarnock fans as the half-time whistle was blown and Nomads were halfway to achieving their goal of a clean sheet.

Kilmarnock visibly upped the anti early in the second period, Brophy looping a cross-shot on to the top of Brass’s goal, before the young stopper was called into action moment later.

O’Donnell met a Chris Burke centre, his deflected volley heading for the top left corner of Brass’s net before the Nomads number one produced a fantastic save.

Kilmarnock continued to huff and puff, new signing Mohamed El Makrini called into action to provide a spark.

But it was Nomads who conjured up a goal out of nothing, that man Roberts venturing forward and supplying a tantalising ball across the face of the goal, which Taylor could only turn into his own net under pressure from Wilde.

Time seemed to stand still for Morrison’s men, who were dealt a cruel sucker-punch as Kilmarnock were gifted an equaliser.

A clumsy looking collision between Roberts and Burke was deemed by referee Erik Lambrechts as a foul by the Nomads man and he had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.

Brophy, who had been wayward with his previous sights of goal, calmly stroked the ball down the middle as Brass dived to his right.

There was a sigh of relief from the Kilmarnock fans, some of whom celebrated by sending a flare into the night sky.

That man Brophy went close to doubling his and Kilmarnock’s tally for the evening, but he headed straight at Brass.

A couple of efforts flashed across the Nomads area as the hosts looked to have done at least enough to clinch a well-earned draw.

But there was to be late heartache for Nomads as a corner inside the final minute of stoppage time was headed home by Stuart Findley.

The Kilmarnock fans erupted, highlighting the scrap that their side had found themselves in for 92 minutes of action.

And it made captain Gary Dicker’s post-match words all the more poignant.

He said: “I wouldn’t go as far as massive favourites. They play in Europe more than us and it’s obviously a tough game, nobody is thinking it will be easy because they are here for a reason.

“We are concentrating on getting through not about being massive favourites.

“If you get too far ahead of yourselves in football you get a nice slap in the face.”

Kilmarnock might have done their homework prior to the first-leg, but they will be all the more equipped having gone toe-to-toe with Morrison’s fearless Nomads.