Conor Cannon 39' -
UCD will go onto face Galway FC in the Relegation Play-off First Leg on Monday night after a convincing one-nil win over Drogheda United on Friday night in Belfield. A first half goal from Conor Cannon meant that The Students didn’t need to worry about Athlone Town’s result as it was the midlanders who were automatically relegated on a dramatic final night of League of Ireland action.
UCD started the better of the two sides with Belhout and Burke combining to tee up the ever impressive Robbie Creevy early on.
The Drogheda Fans missed the first few minutes presumably due to the traffic that they met on their way into Dublin but when they did arrive they made quite the impression as they entered the ground singing “Going down, Going down, Going down”.
However on the pitch it was still all UCD but the Students were still struggling to turn their possession advantage into a goals advantage with Benson and Langtry going close for the home side in the opening quarter of play.
The home side struggled for clear cut chances early on but when Conor Cannon received the ball from Burke with his back to the goal, he then turned and unleashed an unstoppable low drive that beat Connolly in the Drogheda goal.
With just one minute to go till half time Robbie Benson should have really given the Students a two goal lead. The skipper was played through following some neat interlinking play with Burke, Belhout and Creevy but instead of finishing the move off himself he instead tried to pull the ball back to a team mate allowing Drogheda to clear.
Things were beginning to get even tenser around Belfield but Conor O’Donnell and his back four managed to haul UCD into half time with their advantage still intact.
The second half continued much like the first, at lightening pace. Just ten minutes in Benson broke once again after some neat play in midfield. The captain then appeared to be bundled over but the ball spilt to Cannon who saw his effort come back off the post and away to safety with Drogheda’s defenders scrambling to clear.
Not long after hitting the post Conor Cannon then sprinted clear of the Drogheda defence before finally getting thwarted by Connolly at the near post. Timmy Molloy then delivered a ball over the defence to allow Benson to head over as UCD looked to confirm their dominance.
With Drogheda picking up their fourth yellow card of the evening with twenty minutes still to play it looked like Richardson’s men discipline problems may see another man sent off. Cannon was one of the main reasons for the number of fouls being committed by the Louth side as his never ending pace seemed to cause a relentless number of problems for their back line.
A major part in UCD living to fight another day was Conor O’Donnell producing the kind of saves that has seen him cement himself as number one goalkeeper in Belfield. The game looked all set for a Drogheda equaliser but some big defensive blocks by Ian Ryan and James Kavanagh saw the victory out for the College.
UCD: Conor O’Donnell, Gareth Matthews, Ian Ryan, James Kavanagh, Mark Langtry (Dan Tobin 57); Gary Burke, Robbie Creevy, Robbie Benson, Timmy Molloy, Samir Belhout (Colm Crowe 84); Conor Cannon (Gregory Sloggett 87).
Subs Not Used: Niall Corbet (gk), Sean Coyne, Daniel Tobin, Tomas Boyle.
Drogheda United: Dylan Connelly; Mick Daly, Alan McNally, Ciaran McGuigan, Shane Grimes; Stephen Maher (Paul Crowley 67), Daire Doyle (Paul Andrews 84), Gavin Holohan; Carl Walshe, Declan O’Brien (Cathal Brady 67), Gary O’Neill.
Subs Not Used: Michael Shlingermann (gk), Gareth Brady, Adam Wixted, Roy Kireans.
Bookings: Carl Walshe (13), Ciaran McGuigan (36), Gavin Holohan (61), Daire Doyle (72)
Referee: Paul Tuite
Attendance: 450 (estimate)
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Conor Cannon (UCD)