AFTER nine seasons playing at the top level of Welsh football, the Wingmakers achieved their dream of playing in European competition in 2013.

A 2-0 home win over Bangor City in the final game of the domestic season secured the runners-up spot - the club's best-ever finish - and an automatic spot in the first qualfying round of the Europa League.

Airbus were drawn against Ventspils and hosted the Latvians in the first leg at Wrexham's Racecourse Ground on 4 July 2013 in front of a crowd of 1,451.

Simonas Paulius put the visitors in front after 47 minutes but Chris Budrys secured a draw with the equaliser when he headed home a Nicky Ward free-kick 10 minutes from time.

The club travelled out to Latvia a week later by private chartered jet, appropriately from Hawarden Airport adjacent to the club's stadium and the giant Airbus plant.

The players again performed superbly as they went in search of the necessary away goal and Steve Jones had the ball in the net on the stroke of half-time only to be ruled offside.

Whilst Ventspils rarely troubled keeper James Coates, all the Wingmakers' best efforts failed to produce a goal and, despite being undefeated in Europe, they went out of the competition on away goals. 

The Wingmakers qualified again for the Europa League in 2014 and drew tough opponents in FK Haugesund of Norway.

A Jordan Johnson goal gave Airbus a first leg lead at Nantporth, Bangor but this was cancelled out by Daniel Bamberg and the side travelled to Norway needing at least one away goal to progress.

After going behind early-on, Airbus hit back with a Mike Pearson goal on 14 minutes and they were in with a chance of a shock result until the final whistle, despite conceding again in the second half.

But despite going close on a couple of occasions, the Wingmakers could not produce another goal which would have taken them through to meet FK Sarajevo.

Season 2014/15 brought a third successive year of Europa League football as Airbus were drawn to play NK Lokomotiva Zagreb. In the first leg at Bangor, the home side dominated and deservedly took the lead with a Wayne Riley goal. But the full-time visitors turned the table after the break to establish a 3-1 lead.

Over in Croatia, Airbus again scored first with a Chris Budrys header straight after the break. Lokomotiva levelled, but Andy Jones re-established the lead before the Croatians equalised once more and the second leg finished as a 2-2 draw after a very creditable performance from the Wingmakers.

Photos (top) Chris Budrys scores against Ventspils and (below) skipper Ian Kearney celebrates with goal scorer Mike Pearson in Norway.