Mario Bowden reports from the UCD Bowl
St Patrick’s Athletic were comfortable winners against UCD on Saturday afternoon, beating the Students by two goals to nil in a pre-season friendly fixture
In a game where chances were at a premium, it was the Premier Division side that nudged their way to victory thanks to goals from Ronan Coughlan and birthday boy Matty Smith.
There was not much to sing and shout about in the first half, but Pat’s certainly were the more dominant side. UCD were often pinned back into their own half by neat and tidy build-up play from the visitors, but their final ball often let them down.
Winger Darragh Burns was sent sliding to the byline to reach overhit through balls on numerous occasions – but to no avail.
The Saints however were almost gifted the lead following a mistake from the UCD defence.
Coughlan pounced on a back pass from defender Jack Keaney that fell too short – but the ex-Sligo forward couldn’t quite sort his feet out and a swarm of UCD players rushed back to block any route to goal.
The first shot of the game came on the half-hour mark – courtesy of a St Pats free-kick just outside the box. Jay McClelland’s low curling effort did beat the wall – but not UCD keeper Carl Williams.
UCD eventually found themselves further up the pitch towards the end of the half. Evan Weir did brilliantly to win back possession Burns shielding the ball in the corner– nudging him aside and finding midfielder Eoin Farrell on the edge of the box.
Farrell did well to shift his feet to shoot – but unfortunately it rolled the other side of the post.
Two minutes later, on the stroke of half-time, Pats had one last bite at the cherry. A beautiful ball through found Coughlan in a promising position.
With UCD managing to get numbers around the striker again, Coughlan decided to tee up Burns instead – whose left-footed curler couldn’t quite find its way into the top left-hand corner.
UCD set the tempo early in the second half, with midfielder Paul Doyle having a crack at goal from 35 yards out.
Doyle’s effort was hit sweetly but was hit straight in to the hands of Pats keeper Vitezslav Jaros. This was the only bit of saving the Liverpool loanee had to endure all game.
But it was Pats who would hit the back net on the hour mark. A great counter attacking play found Burns, who zipped a sharp and fizzing low-cross to the near posts. Coughlan managed to swipe a leg at it, and his deflected effort snuck past Williams.
The game’s real injection of pace came from substitute Matty Smith. Playing on the left-hand side, Smith wasted no time getting into the game – cruising forward with slaloming and purposeful bursts forward.
Smith’s dynamism was rewarded on the 80th minute mark. A heavy touch from UCD’s Dan Keane outside his own box proved costly.
Coughlan swopped up the free ball and his shot was parried convincingly from Williams. The ball fell back to Coughlan, who offloaded to Smith – who buried it to double Pat’s lead.
It was a comfortable enough victory for the visitors, but UCD’s stubbornness made the victors work for the win.
The home-side showed moments of potential – but unfortunately couldn’t carve open any clear cut chances.
The victory will inspire confidence in the Inchicore side – as they face a tough opening game of the SSE Airtricity League game against Dublin rivals Shamrock Rovers.
Meanwhile, UCD host Athlone Town at the Bowl in the First Division on March 26th.
UCD: Carl Williams, Michael Gallagher, Jack Keaney, Sam Todd, Michael McHugh, Evan Weir, Eoin Farrell, Sean Brennan, Liam Kerrigan, Paul Doyle*, Colm Whelan
St Patrick’s Athletic: Vitezslav Jaros, Ian Bermingham, Lee Desmond, Paddy Barrett, Jamie Lennon, Robbie Bension, Darragh Burns, Jay McClelland, Ronan Coughlan, Nahum Melvin Lambert.
Extratime.com Player of the Match: Matty Smith (St Patrick’s Athletic).