Barry Johnston scored a crucial away goal for Cliftonville as they came back to secure a draw in the Europa League.
The New Saints had taken the lead on 27 minutes with Alex Darlington scoring after a fine individual run.
But with five minutes of the first half remaining Cliftonville equalised when Paul Harrison was beaten by Johnston's 35-yard shot.
Saints' Chris Sharp, who had a goal disallowed in the first half, wasted an opportunity early in the second half.
And with two minutes of the game remaining substitute Greg Draper could not direct his header past Ryan Brown.
The New Saints boss Mike Davies said he was disappointed his side had failed to hold on to their lead to take into the second leg of the first qualifying round tie.
"We let ourselves down tonight," said Davies. "We had a great start and then conceded a sloppy goal.
"Once we conceded I thought our heads went down and I will be looking for a bit more character next time we play."
Cliftonville manager Tommy Breslin was happy with a draw.
"We closed up space well and will come back to Solitude with a chance of going through," he said.
The New Saints: Harrison, Spender, Marriott, Baker, Evans, Ruscoe, Sharp, Chris Williams, Jones, Darlington, Edwards.
Subs: Ramsey, Johnson, Hogan, Seargeant, Rawlinson, Draper, Partridge.
Cliftonville: Brown, Caldwell, Smyth, Seydak, McVeigh, McMullan, Martin Donnelly, Catney, Johnston, Rory Donnelly, Garrett.
Subs: Duffin, Ronan Scannell, Templeton, Gormley,Clarke, Lynch, Bradley.
Referee: Clayton Pisani (Malta)