by Robert O'Reilly
St. Patrick’s Athletic scored twice in the final two minutes to snatch all three points against Drogheda United in a five-goal thriller at United Park.
Conan Byrne gave the Dubliners the lead early on but goals in either half from Gavan Holohan and Peter McGlynn put the hosts in front before a Daire Doyle own goal and a last gasp strike from Christy Fagan sealed a remarkable turnaround.
Drogheda manager Damien Richardson made two changes from the side that was narrowly defeated by Cork City last Friday as Gary O’Neill and McGlynn came in for the suspended Gavin Brennan while Declan O’Brien dropped to the bench.
Having qualified for the FAI Cup Final at the weekend, the Saints started with a purpose and they hit the front on nine minutes as Byrne cut in from the right side to curl an unstoppable shot into the top corner of the goal.
Byrne and Keith Fahey went close to extending the visitor’s advantage but it wasn’t long before Drogheda had their first effort on target as bright approach play from Carl Walshe presented Holohan with a chance but his drive was pushed away by Brendan Clarke.
Despite being second best for most of the half, United went into the break level as Gary O’Neill expertly controlled a long ball to bring Holohan into play and the midfielder drove into the box before cutting inside the Pat’s defence to fire into the bottom corner.
The home side started the second half with renewed optimism as they sought a surprise lead when O’Neill dropped deep again to pick out the run of Shane Grimes though the Drogheda captain sent his shot narrowly wide of the far post.
The Saints continued push forward in search of the lead though they failed to test Schlingermann as Alan McNally blocked Fahey’s close range effort and then Ciaran McGuigan denied Christy Fagan with a last ditch challenge.
Drogheda completed the surprise turnaround with 19 minutes left to play as O’Neill regained possession from a St Pat’s kick out and he passed to McGlynn who feinted past Bolger before sending a thunderous shot in off the underside of the bar.
It appeared as though the hosts would hold on for a sizeable scalp but the tide of events changed in the final minute of regulation time as Doyle diverted Fagan’s cross past Schlingermann.
The Premier Division’s joint leading goal scorer was to have the final say though as Forrester released the former Manchester United player and he slotted the ball into the bottom corner to condemn Drogheda to their 15th defeat in the league this season.
by Robert O'Reilly
Drogheda United will be looking for their first win in three games as they welcome St. Patrick’s Athletic to United Park for the penultimate home game of the 2014 season, kick-off 7.45pm.
The Boyneisders suffered their 14th league defeat last Friday as they went down 2-1 to high flying Cork City but the former Leesiders manager Damien Richardson was satisfied with United’s display given the quality of the opposition.
“I was very pleased with our performance in Cork as we were without a centre forward from the start due to knocks and injuries so we started Gavin in an unfamiliar position”, Richardson stated on Thursday. “Despite that, we had the home crowd at Turners Cross on tenterhooks at the end and I was full of admiration for the character that the players showed. I hope to see a similar performance for the three remaining games this season.”
Drogheda were reduced to ten men on 78 minutes after the dismissal of Gavin Brennan, the fourth time that the winger has seen red this season but Richardson believes that Brennan is committed to improving his poor disciplinary record.
“We are unsure of how many games Gavin will be missing as a result of suspension. It was a horrible experience for him and he’s been very down over the last week. We spoke about it yesterday and he realises that it’s something that has to become part of his past. Gavin seems determined to get to grips with the problem and he remains a great asset to the team.”
It has been four months since Drogheda and the Saints last met as United suffered a 6-0 drubbing at the hands of the reigning league champions while the Dubliners also ran out 4-0 winners at United Park in April though the Dubliner is confident that there will be no repeat on Friday.
“I think pound for pound, St. Pat’s are probably the best team in the league and only injuries have hindered them this year from really competing for the title. They will obviously be full of confidence having qualified for the FAI Cup final at the weekend and they will pose a serious test for us without question. There is a stronger character to this team and I’m expecting a much closer game against St. Pat’s than in the past and I’m hoping that we can win.”
Cathal Brady will be absent for the home side with a hamstring problem while both Daire Doyle and Gary O’Neill are doubtful with groin injuries. Mick Daly is expected to be fit despite a back complaint.
Mick Daly (Adam Wixted 24)
Stephen Maher (Garreth Brady 86)
Gary O’Neill (Declan O’Brien 84)
Killian Brennan (Peter Durrad 82)
Conan Byrne (Derek Foran 82)
Aaron Greene (Chris Forrester 52)
Gavan Holohan (38)
Peter McGlynn (71)
Conan Byrne (9)
Daire Doyle (89 o.g.)
Christy Fagan (90)
Greg Bolger (56)