Haverfordwest County did Pembrokeshire and Wales proud as they held full-timers KF Shkendija of North Macedonia to a narrow 1-0 advantage in the away leg of their Uefa Europa Conference League qualifier on Thursday night.

Tony Pennock's squad produced a spirited performance in the hot conditions of the Tose Proeski Arena in their first European match in 19 years, and are still very much in this tie ahead of the home leg at Cardiff City stadium this week.

A 47th minute goal from Adenis Shala was all that separated the two sides at the end of 90 minutes, and manager Tony Pennock could take plenty of heart from the way his side refused to capitulate against very strong opposition.

Like Haverfordwest, Shkendija's own ground was not deemed suitable to host Uefa matches, and therefore the first leg was was staged at the 33,000 capacity home of the North Macedonia national team in the capital of Skopje.

Pennock's men went into the game as big underdogs against the four-times national champions, who have won the Macedonian Cup and the Macedonian Football Super Cup in recent years, as well as qualifying for Europe 11 times in 12 years.

The KF Shkendija team, consisted of a mix of players from North Macedonia, Albania, Kosovo, and Bosnia and Herzegovina under new manager Ardian Nuhiu, who was only appointed to his role last month, and started brightly.

An early chance saw frontruner Erald Cinari miss the target for the hosts, and skipper Ennur Totre delivered a corner for Shkendija which came to nothing, whilst the visitors battled hard to find their way into the game.

Playing in yellow shirts and socks and blue shorts, midfielders Kai Whitmore and Tyrese Owen battled hard in the middle of the park and defenders Oscar Borg, Lee Jenkins and skipper Jazz Richards rose to the challenge.

In temperatures still well over 30 degrees, both teams headed to the touchline for a water break, but on resumption Klisman Cake missed the target and Cintari was denied by keeper Zac Jones in his first real save.

Haverfordwest were forced into a change as Jack Wilson, suffering from illness, was forced off the field, to be replaced by substitute Ricky Watts, before strikes by Klisman Cake and Dashmir Elezi both failed to hit the target.

Daniel Hakins swept in a corner for Haverfordwest, but home keeper Davor Taleski was untroubled, and at the other end Amir Redjepi was denied by the Haverfordwest stopper before the referee finally blew for half-time.

Pennock could take plenty of heart from the effort of his side in keeping a clean sheet in the opening 45 minutes, but within two minutes minutes of the second half  disaster struck as Shala found the net from Ardian Limani's assist.

More chances followed from Endrit Krasniqie and Cinari, but the visitors weathered the storm and defender Jenkins made a crucial block, before the lively Endri Krasniqi forced another save from keeper Zac Jones.

Urged on by the vocal visiting supporters, who made themselves heard in the vast stadium, Haverfordwest rallied and Watts got a shot away and Jenkins also fired wide, but back came Shkenija with Cinari testing keeper Jones.

The Bluebirds won a corner, which Rhys Abbruzzese took, but Shkëndija survived without serious threat and livewire Cinari twice fired wide in the closing minutes as they pushed for a second goal to take to Cardiff.

Substitute Baskim Velija forced another save from Jones before the final whistle sounded, but Haverfordwest had kept their focus to keep the tie alive - and it will be all to play for in Cardiff on Thursday night.

HAVERFORDWEST: Zac Jones, Oscar Borg, Lee Jenkins, Jazz Richards (Captain), Rhys Abbruzzesse, Tyrese Owen, Kai Whitmore, Jack Wilson, Daniel Hawkins, Martell Taylor-Crossdale, Ben Fawcett. Substitutes: Ricky Watts, Ifan Knott, John Chesters, Lucas Davies, Harri John, Rio Dyer, Iori Humphries, Callum Shirt.