Ciaran Fisher reports from Head in the Game Park
Dundalk edged out Drogheda United by one goal to nil in the Louth Derby, thanks to a first-half goal from Micheal Duffy. There wasn’t much between the sides in a tight encounter at Head in the Game Park.
The visitors almost had a goal in the first minute, when Duffy’s cross found Daniel Kelly in the box. Fortunately for David Odumosu in nets, his shot flashed across the face of goal. It would serve as an apt warning of how Dundalk can rapidly conjure chances.
The Lilywhites far from had it their own way in this game. Drogheda settled quickest and dominated proceedings for large spells of the first half.
The home side had ample possession in the first half. The corner count from the first half was noticeably seven to two in Drogheda’s favour. Dane Massey and Kilian Phillips managed two connect well with two in the first 45, but couldn’t get their efforts on target.
At times, the Drogs had the Dundalk backs at sixes and sevens, encircling the visitor’s box, Mark Doyle went to ground on the 7th minute with a penalty shout, with Andy Boyle in close attention, but it was waved away. The contingent of fans allowed in, swelled with hope that they would eventually break the hoodoo of their local rivals.
Ultimately, Drogheda lacked that quality moment in the final third. Their first-half dominance was punctuated with Dundalk offences and the second big chance of the game fell to the visiting side: Patrick Hoban got on the end of a Duffy cross, only for his effort to be smothered by Odumosu when it had scarcely left his foot.
Clinical isn’t quite the right word to use for Dundalk’s opener. They converted their third (and the game’s third) real chance of the game, but it took three attempts to get it in the net. McEleney collected the ball from a throw and crossed an inviting ball for Micheal Duffy to head goal-wards, forcing a good save from the Drogs’ netminder.
From there, a bit of luck would have the ball spill to Daniel Kelly, who fired it back the way it came, producing another save, only for it to pinball once more to Micheal Duffy. The winger made it third time lucky with his second effort, albeit with a generous helping of fortune. He powered it into the net with his right foot, though the legs of Daniel O’Reilly who looked like he might just have positioned himself well to nick it off the line.
The second half was more even, but it was a dull affair with limited chances of note. The ferocity of the challenges started to increaser, but at the expense of the quality. A booking seemed inevitable, and Greg Sloggett was the recipient of the game’s first yellow just after the hour mark, for an over-zealous challenge as Drogheda tried to break. It did settle things somewhat.
The Boynesiders were restricted to crosses into the box, that eluded claret shirts and shots from distance. One almost came good for them on the 87th minute when a wicked shot-come-cross from James Clarke almost connected with the onrushing Chris Lyons.
In the dying embers of the game Raivis Jurkovskis picked up a yellow card for time-wasting from a throw in and the Dundalk striker David McMillian, perhaps wisely, was more intent in getting the ball out to the corner flag to shield, than to get it into the box.
The Railwaymen weathered the storm to see out their local rivals and give Vinny Perth his first win since his return as manager.
Drogheda United: David Odumosu; Daniel O'Reilly, Dane Massey (Jordan Adeyemo 65), Conor Kane, James Brown (c); Killian Phillips, Darragh Markey, Luke Heeney (James Clarke 82), Gary Deegan; Chris Lyons, Mark Doyle (Ronan Murray 65).
Subs not used: Charles Mutawe, Colin McCabe, Mark Hughes, Dinny Corcoran, Brandon Bermingham.
Dundalk: Alessio Abibi; Sonni Nattestad, Darragh Leahy (Cameron Dummigan 59), Raivis Jurkovskis, Andy Boyle; Greg Sloggett, Chris Shields (c), Patrick McEleney (Sam Stanton 88), Daniel Kelly (Sean Murray 59), Michael Duffy; Patrick Hoban (David McMillan 73).
Subs not used: Ryan O'Kane, Ole Erik Midtskogen, Han Jeongwoo, Peter Cherrie, Val Adedokun.
Booked: Greg Sloggett (63) Raivis Jurkovskis (90).
Referee: Graham Kelly
extratime.com Player of the Match: Micheal Duffy (Dundalk).