Patrick O Connor reports from Head in the Game Park
Drogheda United caused an upset at Head in the Game Park on Friday night by recording a thoroughly deserved 3-1 win over second placed St. Patrick’s Athletic.
Both sides went into this match with minimal changes to their starting line ups, not surprising given their performances in the previous weekend’s matches. Drogheda had a very comprehensive 7-0 win albeit against Waterford’s Under-19 side and made just one change - Luke Heeney coming in up-front for Killian Phillips while the Saints had an unchanged team after their stirring performance in their 2-1 loss to Shamrock Rovers.
Drogheda made a very positive start to this game putting the visitors on the back foot for large stretches of the opening 20 minutes. Such was the pressure that Pats were under that John Mountney and Jamie Lennon were both forced into despairing tackles which earned them yellow cards from referee Paul McCloughlin.
The Drogs pressure paid dividends when they scored a brilliant goal from a free kick in the 20th minute. Drogheda’s top scorer Chris Lyons was one on one with Jamie Lennon as the striker bore down on goal and the Pats midfielder made a clumsy challenge and conceded a free kick.
The experienced Dane Massey took control of the free kick and curled an unstoppable shot into the top right-hand corner of the goal, giving Vitezslav Jaros no chance with the power and precision of the shot.
Pats seemed rattled by the concession of the early goal and struggled to get any fluency into their play with playmaker Chris Forrester unusually anonymous in the middle of the park. The midfield sector was bossed by former Saints playmaker Darragh Markey in a more attacking role while the tigerish Gary Deegan was biting into tackles in the centre circle.
Things went from bad to worse for the visitors just before the break when indecision from their backline allowed Drogheda’s Mark Doyle go past three defenders and unleash an unstoppable shot past Jaros, the ball ending up in almost the exact same spot as Massey’s earlier thunderbolt.
Pats did force a corner in injury time but in keeping with their overall level of performance in the opening half it came to nothing and they went into the break with a mountain to climb in the second half.
The early stages of the second half followed the same pattern as the first, with Drogheda comfortable at the back and full of positivity going forward, while Pats ongoing struggles were epitomised by Forrester’s passes continuously going astray and their strike force of Ronan Coughlan and Matty Smith not making any headway up front.
The Athletic did increase the intensity from the hour mark and began to bombard the home defence with Alfie Lewis and Coughlan doing their best to prise open the Pats defence. They did have a number of shots on target but Drogs keeper David Odumosu was rock solid all night and gave great confidence to his defenders.
Pats brought on Nahum Melvin-Lambert in the 79th minute and he had an immediate effect, pulling a goal back within two minutes of his introduction.
It was now Pats turn to bombard the home defence although the Boynesiders were still dangerous on the break and it was from one such break that they effectively wrapped up the three points. It was another substitute, this time Drogheda’s Jordan Adeyemo, who was in the right place at the right time to finish a breakaway attack by placing the ball out of Jaros’ reach.
It was a very well merited win for the Boynesiders who took advantage of an out of sorts St. Patrick’s Athletic to move up to fourth position in the table on 19 points, while the Stephen O’Donnell’s side have some soul searching to do after now losing two on the trot.
Drogheda United: David Odumosu; James Brown, Conor Kane, Daniel O’Reilly, Dane Massey, Darragh Markey (Jordan Adeyemo 75), Gary Deegan, Jake Hyland (Ronan Murray 63), Mark Doyle, Luke Heeney (Jamie Clarke 70), Chris Lyons.
Subs not used: Colin McCabe; Ryan O’Shea, Hugh Douglas, Killian Phillips, Brandon Bermingham, Dinny Corcoran.
Booked: Daniel O’Reilly (72), Tim Clancy (79), Chris Lyons (85).
St Patricks Athletic: Vitezslav Jaros; John Mountney, Sam Bone, Lee Desmond, Ian Bermingham, Jamie Lennon (Nahum Melvin-Lambert 79) Chris Forrester, Alfie Lewis, Billy King, Ronan Coughlan, Matty Smith.
Subs not used: Josh Keely (gk); Barry Murphy (gk); Shane Griffin, Paddy Barrett, Kian Corbally, Robbie Benson, Daniel Norris.
Booked: John Mountney (7), Jamie Lennon (20), Matty Smith (85).
Referee: Paul McCloughlin.
Extratime.com Player of the Match: Gary Deegan (Drogheda United).