Drogheda United regained their position at the summit of SSE Airtricity First Division this afternoon following a routine 2-0 victory over Wexford FC.
It wasn’t pretty – by any metric – but goals from Derek Prendergast and Mark Doyle now leave the Boynersiders in poll position heading into the final game of the season.
In many ways, the big story of the day happened 90 kilometres south of United Park. Bray Wanderers surrendered their advantage at the top of the First Division table after a 93rd minute Carlton Ubaezuonu strike handed Galway United an unlikely 1-0 victory.
While the result at the Carlisle Grounds will shock many, there would be no such upset in Drogheda. Wexford very rarely looked a threat, and it was difficult to detect any inkling of urgency in their play.
The game was open from the off. Both sides had identical chances within the first three minutes of play: Wexford’s Karl Fitzsimon and Chris Lyons of Drogheda both found themselves in space and within range inside opposition territory, but neither could find the net.
It wasn’t until the 19th minute, however, that the game produced a goal. Hugh Douglas rose the highest to meet an outswinging corner delivered by Chris Lyons, nodding the ball back towards the near post. Defensive partner Prendergast was on hand to secure his first goal of the season, firing past Tom Murphy to put the home side one up.
Photo by Gerry Shanahan
Drogheda shook off their early lethargy to press on following the goal. They enjoyed the best of the chances in the latter stages of the first half, the best of which fell to Lyons.
After punishing a flat-footed Conor Crowley and nipping in to steal the ball on the edge of the area, Lyons only had Murphy to beat. The Drogheda front man dragged his shot, however, and Wexford survived.
The second half dragged, with disjointed passages of play breaking up any momentum – from either side.
Drogheda utilised the wings – as they often have this season – when looking to move forward, and Luke Heeney saw lots of the ball as he worked the flank. The latter produced numerous probing crosses, but Doyle and Lyons couldn’t provide the finishing touch.
Drogheda put the game out of sight after capitalising on some poor Wexford play. Complacency in their defensive passing allowed Jake Hyland to pick up the ball and feed in Doyle. The Drogheda frontman pulled off to the right, before striking resolutely into the bottom corner.
A flurry of Drogheda chances followed, the best perhaps falling to Brandon Bermingham but the young winger wasn’t able to match his solid performance with a goal on this occasion as his shot went flying over the crossbar.
Wexford seemed increasingly disinterested as the match trickled to its conclusion, and Drogheda were happy to see out the result with one eye on proceeding’s in Bray with the Seagulls 1-0 defeat meaning they are now one point behind the Drogs.
A stroke of good luck has put the Boynesiders in a prime position again. The final stretch is before them.
Drogheda United: David Odumosu; James Brown, Hugh Douglas, Conor Kane, Derek Prendergast; Brandon Bermingham, Luke Heeney (Adam Wixted 82), Mark Hughes, Jake Hyland; Mark Doyle.
Subs not used: Frank Cabraley, James Clarke, Richie O'Farrell, Ryan O'Shea, Ross Treacy, Jack Tuite, Adam Wixted.
Booked: Luke Heeney (43), Chris Lyons (53), James Clarke (62),
Wexford: Karl Fitzsimons, James Carroll, Charlie Smith; Kevin McEvoy, Jack Doherty, Conor Crowley; Kieran Murphy (Patrick O'Sullivan 66), Azeez Yussuf (Malike Benrouguibi 84).
Subs not used: Tom Murphy, Jack Lydon, Kristian Crawford, Malike Benrouguibi, Patrick O'Sullivan.
Booked: Jay Nwanze (5) ,Kieran Murphy (37) ,Azeez Yussuf (77)
Referee: Eoghan O'Shea
ExtraTime.ie Player of the Match: Luke Heeney