ANDY MORRISON was left with mixed emotions - pride and pain - as Connah’s Quay Nomads were dealt late Europa League heartbreak by Kilmarnock.

An own goal from Greg Taylor handed Nomads the lead with 15 minutes of the first-leg to play, but disaster struck for Morrison’s men.

A clumsy challenge from Callum Roberts gifted Kilmarnock a penalty, which Eamonn Brophy coolly dispatched, and worse was to follow as Stuart Findlay broke free of his marker to power a header past Lewis Brass in stoppage time.

“It’s really, really tough to take,” declared boss Morrison.

“I’m incredibly proud of the effort, not just tonight, but in the last two or three weeks.

“To come up with a game plan to nullify a Scottish Premiership team and for them to have just one shot on target really.

“Lewis has only really had one shot to save and then he’s picking the ball out of the net twice. I told the lads it’s hard to pick them up because it’s hard to pick myself up with the way we lost it.

“The lads were fantastic and worked so hard, and Kilmarnock completely ran out of ideas. They tried to split the central defenders and allow them to step in and we nullified that.

“The full-backs then went higher up the pitch and cut in, and we nullified that. They ran out of ideas and weren’t opening us up.”

Morrison prides himself on Nomads’ miserly defence, so was left frustrated by the two set-piece goals his team gave away.

Roberts, who had played a crucial part in Nomads’ goal, saw his night take a turn for the worse as he brought Chris Burke down and Belgian referee Erik Lambrechts pointed to the spot.

Brophy stroked the ball down the middle of Brass’s goal to level the tie.

Morrison was still scratching his head over the penalty at full-time, saying: “Callum had a terrific game but makes a crazy decision to give a penalty away.

“I still can’t work out what he was thinking until I see it back.

“But it gets them back in the game and then it becomes so important not to lose - you call on your experience.”

A score draw would certainly not have been the end of the world for Nomads heading into next week’s second-leg at Rugby Park, but Findlay nodded in Burke’s cross to give Kilmarnock a clear advantage.

“It’s the smallest detail,” said Morrison of Findlay’s thumping header.

“The fact they pulled an extra player out for the short corner and with a minute left we didn’t cover the middle zone, which we always do, and it’s a free header.

“It’s so disappointing because you come away from a game like this with glory at 1-1, but it’s hard to take anything away now.

“I can’t put a spin on it because the disappointment and pain of losing after that performance is so, so difficult to pick yourself up from.”

Morrison did allow himself a moment of satisfaction as Nomads gave a Kilmarnock team that took eight points off Glasgow Rangers last season, a real run for their money.

“We will head up north with our heads held high, and so should Welsh football,” he said.

“Kilmarnock finished third in the Scottish Premiership and are a very good team, but a Welsh Premier League team has just gone toe-to-toe with them.

“At the moment the result hurts, but we’ve got to take it on the chin and go again.”