David Wilson reports from Head in the Game Park
A Greg Sloggett header secured Jim Malone Cup success for Dundalk as they achieved victory at Head in The Game Park over local rivals Drogheda United.
Goals in the first half from David McMillan and Val Adedokun gave Dundalk the lead at halftime whereas Chris Lyons and Ronan Murray scored for the hosts.
Dundalk lined up with a 3-4-3 shape whereas the Drogs played a more traditional 4-4-2 but Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe – a new signing at Oriel – showed all his class and quality in the 12th minute.
He sauntered down the right and cut inside and looked to have his leg taken by Luke Heeney. The ball fell to Ryan O’Kane as Dundalk collectively appealed for a penalty, but he could only muster an effort wide with his left foot.
Just three minutes later and the Lilywhites should have been ahead. Andy Boyle was found unmarked with a free header eight yards out after an excellent delivery from O’Kane but somehow the Irish international headed wide.
The game continued with a searing intensity. Drogheda worked the ball from left to the right as James Brown found Brandon Bermingham.
The winger beat Darragh Leahy and whipped in a fantastic cross to Chris Lyons who darted across Boyle and diverted his header into the far corner.
Four minutes later and Dundalk were level. Neat interplay down the left from youngsters Adedokun and O’Kane saw O’Kane dribble sharply into the box.
The teenage prodigy was taken down by Luke Heeney and the referee immediately awarded the penalty.
David McMillan did what he did in the cup final last season, stepped up and tucked the penalty low to the bottom left corner.
Sam Stanton developed into the game wonderfully. The Scot showed guile and creativity as he began to link the Dundalk back three with the attack.
Eight minutes before the break, Stanton swerved through the tackles of the Drogheda midfield and found Junior down the right.
His cross found an unmarked Adedokun at the back post and the youngster controlled well before thrashing his shot beyond the onrushing David Odumosu.
Drogheda were more than competitive in the opening half and were nearly level just before the half. Murray and Dane Massey combined with a one-two off a throw in, a great run from James Clarke from inside to out saw the winger approach the box with the ball at his feet but he drove his effort off target and wide of the far post.
United started the second half just as they ended the first as Murray whistled an effort past Abibi’s right hand post from 25 yards.
Murray now had his eye in, and the new signing possesses an excellent technique when striking the ball.
This was demonstrated as the ex-Sligo forward struck a wonderful free kick into the top corner from all of 35 yards out bringing Drogheda back on terms in the 52nd minute.
The game’s rhythm was interrupted by some substitutions as the new arrivals aimed to put their stamp in the game.
Junior dropped into the half space before unleashing Raivis Jurkovskis down the right but sub-Patrick Hoban did not have the sharpness to get on the end of a low driven cross.
As so often is the case the game can be decided in a minute. Drogheda were denied a penalty as Jesus Perez took out Brown in the box.
Just a minute later a wide free kick delivered by Patrick McEleney was nodded into the bottom corner by Greg Sloggett to give Dundalk the lead again.
The home side continued to press for an equaliser but failed to test Peter Cherrie in the Lilywhite’s goal.
Dundalk began to maintain possession of the ball better through McEleney who was marvellous especially when Dundalk went to a four at the back.
Junior headed over and Hoban flicked one excellently as McCabe did well to save low as the clock ticked toward the 90, but Dundalk just could not get that insurance goal.
Dundalk now have retained the Jim Malone Cup for the seventh year in a row, but Drogheda will be encouraged by their performance and more minutes into their players legs.
Drogheda United: David Odumosu (GK) (Colin McCabe h;t); James Brown, Dane Massey (Jack Tuite 59), Daniel O’Reilly, Conor Kane; Jake Hyland (C) (Cillian Phillips h/t), Luke Heeney, James Clarke (Ryan O’Shea 59), Brandon Bermingham (Jordan Adeyemo 59); Ronan Murray (Mohammed Boutiaf 72), Chris Lyons
Unused Substitutes: Hugh Douglas, Darragh Markey, Sam O’Brien, Charles Mutawe.
Booked: Chris Lyons (41), Luke Heeney (89).
Dundalk: Alessio Abibi (GK) (Peter Cherrie 59), Raivis Jurkovskis, Andy Boyle, Daniel Cleary, Darragh Leahy; Chris Shields (C), Sam Stanton (Greg Sloggett 59), Val Adedokun (Jesus Perez 65), Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe, Ryan O’Kane (Patrick McEleney h/t); David McMillan (Patrick Hoban h/t)
Unused Substitutes: Mayowa Animashun, German Giamattei.
Extratime.com Player of the Match: Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe (Dundalk).