UCD 3 - 1 Phoenix FCSat, May 26 2012
UCD were the victors at a sun-kissed Belfield Bowl on Friday night as goals from Paul O’Conor, Danny Ledwith and Graham Rusk gave the Students a 3-1 win over Phoenix FC in this FAI Cup Second Round tie.
In a game that was slow to get going, UCD’s fitness eventually proved telling (especially in the second half) as they dominated both possession and chances against a Phoenix team who are coming to the end of their domestic season.
The games opener came in the 27th minute, and it was UCD’s number 8 Paul O’Conor who was to break the deadlock. The midfield maestro could have already had two by then, but his 12th minute miss and his 15th minute offside effort were quickly forgiven as he raced onto a Graham Rusk through ball and dinked the ball over the impressive Tadhg Murphy.
The Students took encouragement from their opener, and Gary Burke nearly doubled their lead with a spectacular effort in from 30 yards on the half hour mark, only to see his effort cannon off the crossbar, down onto the goal-line and away. There were some brief claims amongst the home support that the ball had crossed the line, but with the sun in their eyes these claims were tenuous at best.
Phoenix were to be awarded an opportunity to make things level in after 33 minutes when Samir Belhout pushed former UCD man John Brophy in the back at the edge of the box, and Richie Winter had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Indeed it was probably Phoenix’s first and only meaningful foray into the UCD box in the first half, but that mattered little as Keith Dawson stepped up and dispatched the penalty to the bottom left and send the teams in level at the break.
Much like its predecessor, the second half was slow to get going and we had to wait until the 59th minute for the first noteworthy event. UCD’s Danny Ledwith ventured forward from his right back position and struck the inside of Tadhg Murphy’s post, with the Phoenix keeper well beaten. Rusk attempts to scramble the ball in from the rebound were to no avail and the visitors cleared.
UCD took an eventual and deserved lead in the 76th minute. Derek Swan was only off the bench for Phoenix, and his first involvement was to cynically bring down Robbie Benson at the edge of the box. Up stepped Danny Ledwith, and with minimal run up he swept the ball with his right foot past a despairing Murphy.
UCD made sure of the win on 82 minutes when good work from substitute Dean Clarke down the left saw him cut into the box and square the ball to Graham Rusk at the edge of the six yard box. UCD’s industrious striker made no mistake and side footed the ball into the Phoenix net for his second goal of the week.
Phoenix nearly gave themselves a glimmer of hope in the 88th minute, when substitutes Ianolli and Kennedy combined, but the latter shaved McGinley’s right hand post, and with that their hopes evaporated.
The Students progress to the third round, but it will be the performance that will please Martin Russell as much as the score line as his side were in truth deserved winners with their keeper a virtual spectator.
UCD: Mark McGinley; Daniel Ledwith, David O’Connor (Hugh Douglas 83), Mick Leahy, Ciaran Nangle; Samir Belhout (Mark Langtry 65), Paul Corry, Paul O’Conor, Robbie Benson; Gary Burke (Dean Clarke 65), Graham Rusk.
Subs Not Used: Niall Corbett (GK), Barry McCabe, Stephen Doyle, Tomas Boyle.
Bookings: Benson (57), Ledwith (78), P O’Conor (84).
Phoenix FC: Tadhg Murphy; Craig Sheridan, Ray Kearns, David Phillips, Brian Kelly; Glen Wade, Sean Gleeson, Gareth Cooney, John Brophy; Keith Dawson, Daniel Giffney (Derek Swan 73).
Subs Not Used: Keith Kennedy, Mark O’Connor, Jamie Moloney, Daniel Ianolli, Darren Sargent, Ben Dale (GK)
Bookings: B Kelly (10), R Kearns (53), G Wade (58), D Swan (75).
Referee: Richie Winter.
Attendance: 150 (estimate).
Extratime Man of the Match: Paul O’Conor – Bossed midfield and could have had a couple of more goals.
Brian Fitzgerald is a Dublin-based reporter who has followed Cork City since the mid 1990's. Brian can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or followed on twitter @B_Twitzgerald