It was a case of apprentice triumphing over master as Martin Russell’s UCD beat Pete Mahon’s St. Pats in a gritty and entertaining encounter in the UCD Bowl.
David McMillan scored the only goal of the game as the Students inflicted a second defeat in a row on their former mentor Mahon. The defeat means the Saints are off the top of the table and have some work to do before their crunch clash with new league leaders Dundalk in Inchicore on Friday.
It all started brightly for the away side with Gareth Coughlan and Brian Cash threatening from both wings. It was Coughlan who had the first effort of the game after two minutes but Billy Brennan palmed his deflected shot around the post. Coughlan was again involved after seven minutes as he had a scuffed shot following a scrambled corner. Andy Boyle managed to block the effort which was trickling goalwards.
Vinny Faherty just couldn’t get enough on a header from a Coughlan cross on twelve minutes as St. Pats dominated the opening exchanges but failed to get the goal they craved.
After 20 minutes UCD began to take control of the game. Chris Mulhall saw his dipping 25 yard effort well parried by Gary Rogers. David McMillen looked for a penalty as he pounced on the rebound, but referee Padraig Sutton and the travelling Pats fans felt he went over too easily.
The glaring sunlight may have impaired Students keeper Billy Brennan as he spilt a Brian Cash cross on 27 minutes to hand Pats their best opening of the first half. Gareth Coughlan collected the spill but Student’s captain Evan McMillan blocked his goalbound shot off the UCD line.
The game’s only goal came on 33 minutes. After some neat play down the Student’s right hand side, Paul Corry delivered a deep cross to the back post where David McMillan rose above Derek Pender to head UCD into the lead from eight yards. A delighted McMillan celebrated in front of the Pats fans who had been barracking him since the penalty incident.
The goal galvanised the home side and they quickly went in search of a second. Just three minutes after the opener, a Mulhall cross was almost turned into his own net by the hapless Pender. He skewed his attempted clearance goalwards and forced a smart diving save from his own keeper Rogers.
After the break it was Pats who began to control possession. The away side had almost all the ball but found chances at a real premium. UCD’s defence are the second meanest in the league and it showed with a thoroughly disciplined and organised second half performance. Pats were restricted to long range efforts and Billy Brennan was surprisingly not called into action on too many occasions.
Pats looked most dangerous from wide areas and that seemed to be the only way they would find the elusive equaliser. Dave Mulcahy crept in at the back post from a Conor Sinnott corner but his shot was weak. Following that Shane Guthrie had perhaps their best chance but he headed over the bar from ten yards despite being unmarked from Pender’s cross.
The Student’s defence refused to buckle in the last fifteen minutes and Pete Mahon will rue a lack of creativity in the final third which ultimately cost his side the top spot. Martin Russell will be delighted with a fourth clean sheet on the bounce and a vital three points which takes them above Galway into sixth place.
UCD: Brennan, Shortall, Boyle, E. McMillen, Nangle, Mulhall, Corry, Bolger, Kilduff (Creevy 73), Wilson (McMahon 73), D. McMillen. Subs not used: Harding, Ward, Barron.
St. Patricks Athletic: Rogers, Pender, Guthrie, Kenna, Bermingham, McAllister, Mulcahy, Coughlan (Guy 64), Cash, Sinnott (P. Byrne 64), Faherty (Williams 76)
Subs not used: Connor, Lynch.
Referee: Padraig Sutton (Clare)
Attendance: 643 (official)
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Andy Boyle – didn’t put a foot wrong in defence.
Kevin Fagan is Chief Match Reporter for bohemianfc.com and has worked for Extratime since 2010. He is a long suffering Bohs fan and has seen the club win, and lose it all. He has an MA in Journalism from Independent Colleges, and has also contributed to Campus.ie and the Evening Herald. Contact / hurl abuse at him on Twitter via <a href="https://twitter.com/Kev_Fagan89">@Kev_Fagan89</a>