David Wilson reports from Dalymount Park
Bohemians got back to winning ways in what was an efficient performance from Keith Long’s men as they ran out 5-3 winners against basement side Finn Harps at Dalymount Park.
On a night that was full of goals, cards, expansive football and questionable defending, entertainment was the theme of the night in front of the Dalymount faithful.
Ryan Swan scored twice for Bohs, while Kevin Devaney, Danny Mandroiu and Keith Ward were also on target. Niall Logue, Raff Cretaro and Danny O’Reilly responded for Harps.
It only took 40 seconds for the first goal to be registered on the night, as an intricate move down the left between Kevin Devaney and Danny Mandriou resulted in the ball finding Ward wide on the right.
His effort from 20 yards struck Peter Burke’s far post and rebounded to Devaney, who had followed in well and was rewarded with the simplest of tap-ins to put the northsiders ahead.
Two minutes later, parity was restored. A clearance from an original wide free kick from Harps found Jacob Borg on the right, and his delivery was met by Keith Cowan.
The captain nodded onto the crossbar, leaving James Talbot in the Bohs goal stranded, and fortunately for the away side Logue was on hand to finish home to an empty net.
The opening five minutes set the tone for the rest of the game as neither side sat back.
The latest League of Ireland prodigy called up to the international set-up, Talbot, threw out a ball to his full-back Paddy Kirk just as he was being closed down by Mikey Place.
Place immediately overturned the youngster before placing the ball into the path of right-winger Caolan McAleer.
His shot was low and driven but the ex-Sunderland stopper was on hand to rectify his mistake by getting down low and diverting the ball around his far post.
Bohs began to apply more pressure and they capitalised on 27 minutes when Swan finished following some intricate passing around the Harps penalty box.
Scott Allardice, who has been magnificent in recent weeks, played a neat one-two with flying full-back Andy Lyons.
On receiving the ball back from Lyons, Allardice floated an exquisite lofted pass to the back stick where Mandriou was on hand to attempt to force it goalwards.
Burke saved well via the post, but again the ball fell to the feet of a Bohs player one yard from goal as Ryan Swan tapped in.
The second half started much like the first, but this time it was the Donegal men who poured forward and it didn’t take long for the Bohs defence to crack.
Harps equalised two minutes into the second half through the former Bohs and Sligo Rovers stalwart Cretaro.
The number ten shot from 25 yards and, while his effort was well-hit and had a low trajectory, Talbot could only get a weak hand on it and inadvertently diverted it onto his far post before it nestled in the back of the net.
Mandriou, who perhaps surprisingly missed out in being named in Stephen Kenny’s under-21 squad who will travel to renowned invitational Toulon tournament, was excellent. He always played on the half-turn and was a step ahead of everyone on the pitch tonight.
It was Mandriou’s surging run, two minutes later, that resulted in him being taken down just under 30 yards from goal.
Mandriou stood up to take the free kick, which he whipped towards the side Burke had vacated in the Harps goal and it bounced wickedly into the corner of the net as Burke slipped in despair.
Four minutes later, a sweeping long pass split the Harps centre-halves very easily. Logue looked on hand to clear, however he completely misjudged the flight of the ball.
Swan ran through on goal and he placed the dropping ball over the on-rushing Burke and into the back of the net.
Sam Todd was to consider himself lucky not to be carded for a second time after a late challenge on Lyons, but Caolan McAleer didn’t afford the same luck as his clash with Kirk resulted in the winger being shown a second yellow just past the hour.
Harps faced an uphill task to earn anything out of the game and they slipped further behind when, with ten minutes remaining, Mandriou picked out the overlapping Lyons down the right.
His cross was low and skidded along the Dalymount surface as all Cowan could do was to direct the ball right into the path of Ward.
Ward, who had been wasteful with earlier opportunities, made no mistake this time as he finished high to the corner of the net from four yards out.
In a game of eight goals, it was Harps left full-back Daniel O’Reilly who produced the best goal of the game three minutes from time.
A free kick awarded more than 30 yards out allowed O’Reilly to step up and arrow the ball towards the far post.
The ball dipped and swerved before ricocheting off the upright and into the back of the Bohs net – a magnificent effort, but one that provided Harps with nothing more than a consolation.
Bohemians: James Talbot; Andy Lyons, Aaron Barry (C), James Finnerty, Paddy Kirk; Scott Allardice (Luke Wade-Slater 74), Conor Levingston, Keith Ward (Sam Byrne 81), Danny Mandriou, Kevin Devaney (Ryan Graydon 78); Ryan Swan.
Subs not used: Sean Bohan (gk), Keith Buckley, Michael Barker, Dawson Devoy,
Booked: Scott Allardice (70), Paddy Kirk (86).
Finn Harps: Peter Burke (GK); Jacob Borg, Keith Cowan (C), Niall Logue, Daniel O’Reilly; Tony McNamee, Sam Todd (Gareth Harkin 59), Raf Cretaro (Stephen Doherty 75), Mikey Place (Mark Timlin 65), Caolan McAleer; Sean Boyd
Subs not used: Mark McGinley (gk), Colm Deasy, Liam Walsh, Mark Russell.
Booked: Sam Todd (20), Caolan McAleer (27, 62), Sean Boyd (39).
Sent off: Caolan McAleer (62).
Referee: Graham Kelly.
Extratime.ie Player of the Match: Danny Mandriou (Bohemians).