Drogheda United escaped with a 1-0 win on Friday night after edging past Dublin rivals Bohemians at Hunky Dorys Park. The Dublin side were left feeling frustrated after seeing several of their efforts cleared off the line and a late penalty appeal waved away.
The cliché ‘a game of two halves’ was never better recognised than here. In a frantic opening half, Drogheda dominated and they deservedly led at the break. The goal arrived after 35 minutes and came courtesy of the penalty spot with Declan ‘Fabio’ O’Brien slamming home. Indeed, the concession of the penalty told a story in itself. Gavin Brennan showed his class, as he did throughout, inside the box and forced the foul from Roberto Lopes.
Outside of that, ‘Fabio’ had the next best chance of the half which also came following good work from Gavin Brennan who crossed dangerously for O’Brien. The striker’s header was just inches over.
The chances came thick and fast for the hosts throughout the opening 45 minutes.
After only nine minutes, Derek Prendergast had put the ball into the Bohs’ net. But that was ruled out by referee Rob Rogers for some pushing in the box.
The visitors were lucky to escape ten minutes later when Sean Brennan whipped a free kick into the Bohemians’ box. The ball cannoned off a number of bodies, including Evan McMilllan, before goalkeeper Andy McNulty grabbed hold of it as it rolled towards goal.
Bohs had chances too but Gabriel Sava in the home goal remained relatively unfazed. A Keith Ward free kick appeared to be heading for the top corner just before the break before Sava saved comfortably.
Later Ex-Drog Dinny Corcoran rifled home but, like Drogheda earlier in the half, that was ruled out for a foul in the box. Outside of that, Aaron Callaghan’s men had little to show for their 45 minutes.
There was more zeal to the visitor’s attacking play in the second half but they still struggled to create clear-cut chances early on before Karl Moore showed what he was capable of just after the restart. His terrific run and shot asked serious questions of the Drogheda rear-guard and set the tone for the remainder for the game.
On 53 minutes Ryan McEvoy almost capitalised on a mistake by Derek Prendergast but his shot from the edge of the box went two yards wide. It was nothing more than another half-chance for a Bohemians team that tried hard but looked bereft of ideas before the late onslaught.
Callaghan introduced Andy Mulligan and Stephen Traynor in the second half to try and shake his side into life. The latter certainly had an impact and when he linked up with Karl Moore ten minutes form the end, the move forced a corner from Eva McMillan rose highest. But once again Sava proved his worth with a neat save.
With time ticking away, Bohs became more and more desperate to find an equaliser and pushed everyone up the field. Gavin Brennan proved a handful for the visitors’ defence throughout and when he crossed for his brother Ryan late on, it should have been curtains. Instead McNulty saved spectacularly one-on-one with the second half substitute to keep Bohs in the game.
The Gypsies huffed and puffed until the end and it became a fractious encounter with five yellow cards dished out. In injury time, McMillan could have levelled when his powerful header was cleared off the line.
A nervy finale ensued thereafter as Bohemians threw the kitchen sink at their opponents. The ball was twice cleared off the line; one of which had the Bohemians’ players pleading with referee Rogers after the ball appeared to strike one of the Drogheda players on the line.
But the protestations were waved away and Drogheda held out. The win keeps the pressure on Sligo Rovers who remain a point clear at the top of the table, with a game in hand.
Drogheda United: Gabriel Sava; Stephen Quigley, Derek Prendergast, Alan Byrne, Philip Hand (Brian Gannon, 62); Sean Brennan (Ryan Brennan, 72), Paul Crowley, Eric Foley, Gavin Brennan; Declan O’Brien, Peter Hynes (John Sullivan, 81).
Subs not used: Michael Schlingermann, Alan McNally, Tiarnan Mulvenna, Jason Marks.
Bookings: G Brennan (41), Gannon (87).
Bohemians: Andy McNulty; Owen Heary, Evan McMillan, Kevin Feely (Michael Barker, 31), Roberto Lopes; Keith Ward, Ryan McEvoy, Adam Martin (Stephen Traynor, 75), Karl Moore; Dinny Corcoran (Andy Muilligan, 65), Dwayne Wilson.
Subs not used: Craig Sexton, Derek Pender, Keith Buckley, Peter McMahon.
Bookings: Martin (25), Ward (28), Heary (63), E McMillan (86).
Referee: Rob Rogers.
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Derek Prendergast (Drogheda United).
Sam joined Extratime for the 2011 season and is now the site's features editor. He is based in Dublin and covers all the clubs in the capital. He is also prone to the odd Drogheda game. If you would like to contact Sam, you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.