By Robert O’Reilly
Drogheda United have advanced to the Second Round of the EA Sports Cup after they defeated St Mochta’s 3-2 at United Park.
Dean Kelly had given the visitors an early lead from the penalty spot but first-half goals from Mark Doyle, Eoin McPhillips and Stephen Meaney put Drogheda in control before Philly Hughes pulled one back late on.
Drogheda boss Tim Clancy rung the changes from the side that defeated UCD in the league on Friday with only Richie Purdy, Gareth McCaffrey and Doyle keeping their place.
There appeared to be a shock on the cards early on when an under-hit back-pass from Colm Deasy was pounced upon by Denis Moran and he was brought down by the advancing Luca Gratzer with Kelly making no mistake from the spot.
Drogheda responded well to going behind and they were level eight minutes later. A long ball from Kealan Dillon caught out the Mochta’s defence and Doyle nipped in to head beyond the stranded Adam Kmet.
It was two goals in three minutes for the Drogs as Doyle raced past two players down the left and his clipped cross was headed home by McPhillips for a debut goal.
Now in the ascendancy, Drogheda extended their advantage five minutes before the break as a rampaging run down the left from Deasy saw the full-back pick out Meaney in the area and he scooped the ball over the defender before volleying home at the near post.
Drogheda should’ve been out of sight just before the break as a delightful flick from Doyle released Deasy on goal and he rounded Kmet only for the recovering Craig Sheridan to clear the ball off the line.
Mocha’s were reduced to 10 men three minutes into the second-half after Moran collided elbow first with Lloyd Buckley.
United created a number of chances to extend their lead with Deasy and Purdy both bringing out fine saves from Kmet and the full-back was in action again as his strike cannoned back off the post.
The Saints put pressure on the Drogheda goal late on and they got some reward as a stunning strike from Hughes nestled in the top corner from all of 30-yards but it wasn’t enough as Drogheda held on.
The Boynesiders advance to the next round where they will face Shelbourne at Tolka Park with a place in the quarter-finals up for grabs.
Drogheda United: Luca Gratzer (Malachy Doyle 88’); Sean Trimble, Lloyd Buckley (Kevin Farargher 76’), Victor Ekanem (Ciaran Kelly 55’), Colm Deasy; Kealan Dillon, Eoin McPhillips, Richie Purdy; Gareth McCaffrey, Stephen Meaney, Mark Doyle
Subs: Luke Gallagher, Sean Brennan, Jake Hyland, Lee Duffy
St Mochta’s: Adam Kmet; Niall O’Reilly, Gavin Kearney, Craig Sheridan, Sean Byrne (Simon Dixon 26’); Philip Hughes, Mark O’Neill, Jason Marks, Denis Moran, Thomas Crawley (Carl Somers 46’); Dean Kelly (Keith Dunne 60’)
Subs: David Somers, Ciaran Ryan, John Lyons, Andy Gorman
Droghedaunited.ie Man of the Match: Mark Doyle