WELSH PREMIER FOOTBALL

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NONE of the three Welsh Premier clubs managed to land a dream Europa League draw with West Ham United and Airbus, Bala and Newtown enjoyed mixed fortunes in the first qualifying round pairings.

The Wingmakers appear to have the toughest draw on paper against NK Lokomotiva Zagreb from Croatia.

After enjoying little success over the majority of the time since their formation in 1914, Lokomotiva became Dinamo Zagreb's feeder team and between 2007 and 2009 they won three consecutive promotions which saw them rise from fourth level to first level in the Croatian football league system.

In their first ever European encounter, the side faced FC Dinamo Minsk in 2013, losing on the away goals rule after winning 2-1 away from home but losing 3-2 at home. 

The side enjoyed another strong showing in the league, which was reduced to 10 teams for the following season, finishing in fifth place.

Due to rules against second sides being in the same division, they legally split their connection to Dinamo, but the clubs continue good relations with a number of Dinamo's players coming to Lokomotiva on loan every season. 

Should Airbus win through to the second qualifying round, their opponents would be PAOK of Greece.

Bala will face FC Differdange 03 of Luxembourg, who first appeared in Europe in 2007. They beat Bala's first European opponents Levadia Tallinn in the 2010/11 Europa League and also enjoyed success against NSI Runavík of the Faroe Islands a year later.

More success followed in 2013 when they defeated Laci of Albania and then progressed to the third qualifying round of the competition after they eliminated FC Utrecht 5–4 on aggregate.

Newtown's opponents, Valletta of Malta, were beaten 5-0 on aggregate in last year's Champions League by Qarabag of Azerbaijan.

In the 2013/14 Europa League they beat La Florita of San Marino 4-0 in the first qualifying round, exiting at the hands of Minsk 3-1 in the next stage.

If Bala or Newtown win their ties they would face Trabonspor and Copenhagen respectively.

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29 May 2017

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