Conan Byrne netted a hat-trick as Drogheda United slumped to their fourth successive SSE Airtricity League defeat after going down 6-0 to St Patrick’s Athletic at Richmond Park.
The Boynesiders made four changes to the side that lost 4-1 to Limerick on Friday night, as manager Robbie Horgan recalled Michael Daly, Paul Andrews, Carl Walshe and Paul Crowley to his starting lineup for the trip to the capital.
United, who had lost eight of their previous nine league outings, looked good to extend that record after Chris Forrester drilled past goalkeeper Dave Ryan from 20 yards after just six minutes following good work from Ian Bermingham.
Bermingham continued to menace down Drogheda’s right-hand side and the hosts doubled their advantage 10 minutes later, with the defender crossing for Christy Fagan to flick home.
Sean O’Connor managed to fashion the visitors’ first attempt of the night by evading a number of challenges before curling wide of the mark.
Despite the early warning signs of another heavy defeat, the travelling fans were in good spirits but the vocal support failed to inspire the troops, who fell three behind shortly before the break when Byrne’s in-swinging cross sailed over the head of Ryan.
The half-time break did little to blunt Pats’ offensive qualities as Liam Buckley’s side netted a fourth shortly after the interval, with Forrester bagging his second of the evening on 48 minutes.
It got worse for Horgan’s side on 66 minutes as Byrne notched his brace, running on to Mark Quigley’s through ball to slot past Ryan.
And the hitman secured the match ball in the closing stages of normal time to consign Drogheda to their ninth defeat from their last 10 outings.
by Robert O'Reilly
Drogheda United will be looking to halt an awful run of form as they make the daunting trip to face reigning league champions St. Patrick’s Athletic, kick-off 7.45pm.
The 4-1 reversal at home to Limerick on Friday marked United’s ninth defeat in their last ten games in all competitions, a series of results that has seen the Louth club slip to ninth in the table.
Drogheda will be without Michéal Schlingermann and Stephen Maher on Monday. Schlingermann remains a fortnight away from a return while Maher has successfully undergone an operation and should be available for selection following the midseason break.
Ciaran McGuigan is in America due to a work related issue and will return for the Athlone Town match Friday week while Shane Grimes is suspended.
Pat’s will be coming into the game with renewed vigor having put five goals past Derry City on Friday, a result that kept the Saints within touching distance of table toppers Dundalk.
Liam Buckley will be without the injured defender Derek Foran for the visit of Drogheda while Greg Bolger will undergo a late fitness test before the game.
The Saints ran away with the reverse fixture earlier in the season, as a sublime 35-yard volley from Chris Forrester was the highlight in a routine victory.
Speaking on Sunday, Drogheda manager Robbie Horgan acknowledged that his side will be huge underdogs heading into the game but believes that they are capable of causing an upset.
“Certainly Limerick deserved to win last Friday but I felt that the score line was harsh on us. We watched the game back with video analysis; we created plenty of chances and on a different day we could have been one or two up before Limerick got the opener. It was frustrating that we got ourselves back into the game at 2-1 and then conceded seconds later. We spoke at half time about how the next goal was vital and to concede straight from a corner-kick is something you can’t legislate for. To be fair, we kept trying and plugging away but the difference in the end was Limerick taking their chances and our poor defending.
“It is difficult to raise spirits given the run that we are on at the moment. Everybody knows how many goals that we have conceded and the number of defeats that we have had. The victory over Bohs did stop the rot and we know what we have to do, especially tomorrow, to get a result. We certainly won’t be trying to play open football against the league champions and a side that put five past Derry last week. We regrouped this morning, training was very positive and more of a bonding session that anything else. Pat’s will be shown the ultimate respect but we will be going there looking for a result and doing whatever is necessary to achieve that.
“On paper, tomorrow’s game looks like it could be a hiding but we won’t be naïve in how we approach it. Pat’s will have the majority of possession, there is no doubt about that, but we will create chances and it is up to us to be more clinical. That has been the major difference at the moment, the right decisions aren’t being made at either end of the pitch but we will be a lot more protective of our defense tomorrow.
“We can consider ourselves unlucky with the injuries and suspensions that we’ve had given our small squad and the congested fixture list. These, though, are all excuses at the end of the day. We went through the first seven games undefeated, the squad was strong enough then and it should still be now. Obviously, confidence and belief have been hit after recent results but the only way to get that back is by working really hard and earning the right to play. The players aren’t enjoying it at the moment, no one is but the only way to change that is to go out on the pitch and give it your all.“
Brendan Clarke (Rene Gilmartin 46’)
Chris Forrester (Daryl Kavanagh 71’)
Christy Fagan (Mark Quigley 62’)
Cathal Brady (Eric Foley 56’)
Gary O’Neill (Philly Hughes 56’)
Chris Forrester 6’ & 48’
Christy Fagan 16’
Conan Byrne 41’, 66’ & 86’
Keith Fahey (yellow) 47’
Paul Andrews (yellow) 88’