Former Bohs’ favourite Colin Hawkins turned villain on Monday night as his headed goal ten minutes from time saw Dundalk come away with all three points in a pulsating contest at Dalymount Park. The visitors struggled for large parts of the game but weathered intense pressure and took their chance late on.
Bohemians were much the stronger side in the first half. Indeed, Dundalk only recorded one chance of note in the opening 45 minutes when Michael Hector’s header was saved well by Chris O’ Connor in the tenth minute.
Before that Brennan went close from 23 yards out after the winger and Stephen Traynor linked up deep in the Bohs’ half. The game jumped into life eight minutes later when Hector went close with his headed effort. However, following the save, O’ Connor thumped the ball downfield to Flood who collected possession expertly, but fired straight at Peter Cherrie in the Dundalk goal.
As the half progressed Bohs grew into it and began to boss things in midfield through Mark Rossiter and the hugely impressive 18 year old Chris Forrester. Rossiter went close with his 25 yard drive with 18 minutes on the clock.
Despite their dominance, the home side had to wait until the 31st for their next chance. Killian Brennan connected with a Robert Bayly cross but the winger’s looping header was palmed over by the busy Cherrie. And Flood had the ball in the Dundalk net only five minutes later but this was ruled out for a very dubious offside.
Just before the break, Flood, Forrester and midfielder Robert Bayly all had strikes at Peter Cherrie’s goal but the sides went in deadlocked at the break.
Bohs continued their onslaught on the Dundalk goal immediately after the restart, with Killian Brennan’s free kick from the right causing huge problems for the Dundalk defence. Cherrie could only flap at the ball which fell to Flood on the end line. He hooked back towards goal but the effort was cleared off the line by Lilywhite Greg Bolger.
While Bohs did continue to dominate at the start of the second half, they created fewer chances. Stephen Traynor had a great opportunity to score the opener on 53 minutes but his powerful diving header could only find the side netting after a good cross from Ger O’ Brien.
As the half progressed, it descended into a scrappy battle for control of possession in midfield. Indeed as the half wore on the visitors grew more and more into the game. Winger Daniel Kearns looked threatening when given the ball in an advanced position. He crossed well for Jason Byrne on 75 minutes but O’ Connor reacted well to quell the danger.
However this was a sign of things to come and Dundalk finally got the breakthrough ten minutes from time. A free kick in an innocuous position found the Bohs’ defence wanting as Colin Hawkins climbed highest to head past O’ Connor from 16 yards out.
Bohs looked very tired after that sucker punch and stand-in manager Liam O’ Brien brought on Gary Burke and Eoin Fowler while the suspended Pat Fenlon could only watch on from his position in the commentary box.
The changes proved too little, however, as the remainder of the game played out with the hosts failing to create any goal scoring opportunities.
Bohemians: Chris O’ Connor; Owen Heary, Ger O’ Brien, Liam Burns, Aidan Price (Eoin Fowler, 85); Mark Rossiter, Chris Forrester (Gary Burke, 81), Robert Bayly, Killian Brennan; Anto Flood, Stephen Traynor.
Subs not used: Craig Sexton, Lee Dixon, Daniel Joyce, Ollie Cahill, Kevin Feely.
Booked: K Brennan (19), R Bayly (78).
Dundalk: Peter Cherrie; Simon Madden, Colin Hawkins, Michael Hector, Nathan Murphy; Greg Bolger; Daniel Kearns, Shane Guthrie (Dean Bennett, 59), Ross Gaynor; Mark Quigley, Jason Byrne.
Subs not used: Paul Murphy, Keith Ward, Mark Griffin, Johnny Breen, Philip Duffy.
Booked: R Gaynor (67).
Referee: Neil Doyle.
Extratime Man of the Match: Peter Cherrie.