David Wilson reports from Oriel Park
Two magnificent goals, the first from Sam Stanton, the second from Patrick Hoban proved to be the difference as Dundalk picked up a vital three points to put a major dent in Bohemians’ European ambitions.
Bohemians made the trip north up the M1 aiming to push for European football and will be disappointed to at least not come away with a point.
Dundalk are looking to catch Waterford and hopefully avoid a relegation play-off, so these three points were vital for Vinny Perth’s side.
The game struggled to break into a pattern, with the away side arguably shading it as they had more periods of keeping the possession of the ball better.
Stanton who had been reintroduced to the team after he missed the game last Friday at home to Sligo, won possession back well in midfield before finding left-back Darragh Leahy.
Leahy whipped the ball in to Sean Murray who had darted across the front of the Bohs defenders to head his effort against the frame of the goal in the 14th minute.
Four minutes later and the in-form Patrick Hoban outmuscled James Finnerty and struck an effort across goal which James Talbot parried away to safety.
The away side had plenty of the ball but failed to penetrate behind the Dundalk defence, long balls toward Georgie Kelly and then playing off him seemed to be the tactic of choice for Keith Long’s side.
Ross Tierney and Dawson Devoy were bright for the north-siders but neither failed to create a clear opportunity for striker Georgie Kelly.
Even though Dundalk had less of the ball they looked more of a danger when they did get it, Hoban flicked a great ball over the top to Michael Duffy who volleyed against Talbot, the linesman’s flag was up, however.
As the clock ticked towards the half a diagonal pass was headed away by James Finnerty. Duffy picked up the loose ball and fed Stanton who ‘Cruyffed’ the ball beyond Finnerty before unleashing an absolute rocket past the hapless James Talbot to give Dundalk the lead. It was a hellish strike from a narrow angle which Talbot didn’t even smell.
Rob Cornwall and Ali Coote were introduced to Bohs team at halftime, and this had the desired effect as red and black took control of the opening exchanges of the second half. Tierney moved into the number ten position and Devoy now occupied a deeper lying midfield role.
But in an instant, it all changed, Duffy once more linked up with Stanton in the inside left position as Talbot deflected the midfielder’s effort around the far post.
The resulting corner was headed clear where Hoban picked up the bouncing ball and thundered a left-footed volley from twenty-five yards to double the home side’s lead just before the hour mark.
Just a minute later Liam Burt broke down the left and squared it for Georgie Kelly who had the goal at his mercy but somehow scooped over from 6 yards out, the centre forward claimed a touch off a scrambling Dundalk defender, but the referee Neil Doyle disagreed.
Dundalk were now in the ascendency. In the 63rd the freshly introduced Raivis Jurkovskis crossed for Hoban who headed toward the corner but somehow Talbot pushed the ball up on to the woodwork. Sean Murray was on hand to finish the rebound, but Talbot saved once more, displaying all the credentials which saw the goalkeeper earn an international call up.
Bohs found their feet once more and got hold of the ball thanks to Conor Levingston, Devoy and Tierney while Dundalk continued to play on the break.
In the 71st minute Bohs pulled one back. A well worked team goal saw Levingston find the run of Tierney who broke the lines, he set up Devoy who controlled well and found Levingston once more who then found the left back Tyreke Wilson who struck an effort that evaded the clutches of Peter Cherrie from twenty yards out.
With just 12 minutes left Bohs should have had their equaliser, Wilson crossed to an unmarked Rory Feely at the back post who headed toward the near post where Cherrie was on hand to save excellently.
Bohemians threw the kitchen sink at Dundalk who introduced Sonni Nattestad to help combat against Georgie Kelly. Daniel Cleary blocked well after a neat swivel and shot from the Donegal strike as the clock ticked towards ninety.
Keith Long's have picked just one point from their last three league games. Dundalk have now won their last two league games.
Next for Dundalk is a trip to Ballybofey to take on Finn Harps while Bohemians travel to basement side Longford Town on Saturday.
Dundalk: Peter Cherrie, Andy Boyle (C), Daniel Cleary, Darragh Leahy, Cameron Dummigan; Greg Sloggett (Raivis Jurkovskis 50), Sam Stanton; Sami Ben Amar (Han Jeongwoo 71), Sean Murray (Sonni Nattestad 87), Michael Duffy, Patrick Hoban.
Subs not used: Cameron Yates (GK), Sonni Nattestad, Raivis Jurkovskis, Ebuka Kwelele, Ryan O’Kane, Mark Hanratty, Mayowa Animasahun, Enda Douglas
Bohemians: James Talbot; Rory Feely, James Finnerty (Rob Cornwall h/t), Ciaran Kelly, Tyreke Wilson; Keith Buckley (C) (Ali Coote h/t), Conor Levingston (Jamie Mullins 79), Dawson Devoy; Liam Burt, Ross Tierney; Georgie Kelly.
Subs not used: Stephen McGuinness (GK), Cole Kiernan, Roland Idowu, Aaron Doran, Sean Grehan
Booked: Rory Feely (28), Liam Burt (90+1).
Referee: Neil Doyle
Extratime.com player of the match: Patrick Hoban (Dundalk).