Bohemians 0 - 0 Thor AkureyriThu, Jul 05 2012
Bohemians endured a frustrating night at Dalymount Park on Thursday night as they laboured to a scoreless draw against Thor Akureyri in their Europa League first round qualifier. The talk before this game was of 2010, of New Saints/TNS, and of complacency. Bohemians had fallen to supposedly lesser opposition too recently to underestimate their opponents who hailed from the second tier of the Icelandic league.
But the opening two minutes saw Thor on the attack, Andy McNulty just about beating Hilmarsson to a fifty-fifty ball inside his area, and Kristjansson sending in a cross from the right that barely slipped over the head of Hilmarsson, lurking on the edge of McNulty’s six yard box.
Gradually Bohs started to become more comfortable with Keith Ward anchoring their three man central midfield, allowing Ryan McEvoy and Dave Mulcahy to exercise their forward-looking instincts.
And on 11 minutes Bohs should have been ahead. McEvoy and Mulcahy combined in the middle to put Peter McMahon into space on the left, and his cross found Keith Buckley on the right. Buckley’s header looped towards the back post where Dwayne Wilson had two chances to get the ball on target, fluffing the first and seeing ‘keeper Rajkovic push his second around the post.
A series of corners showed Thor to be suspect under pressure though the home side never quite got around to turning the screw. Credit, then, to Thor who kept their shape and maintained some forward momentum themselves through the impressive Sveinn Jonsson and the hardworking front pair, Hilmarsson and Johann Hannesson.
Bohemians did put the ball in the net on 25 minutes when Wilson poked a ball through to McMahon, who stabbed home from six yards only to be pulled up for handball. If the Bohs fans felt aggrieved they had cause to thank the Montenegran referee eight minutes later when the ball skipped up to hit Evan McMillan’s hand inside the Bohs box. As the crowd froze in dread Mr Kaludjerovic imperiously waved play on.
Ten minutes before the break Wilson had a half chance to open the scoring when Ward found Luke Byrne on the left with a sublime ball, and his cross was scrambled away from Wilson’s stooping forehead. Another series of corners reiterated how skittish the Icelanders were under direct pressure, Ward adding to their discomfort with a powerful drive from 35 yards that Rajkovic punched away, unconvincingly.
The second half started in scrappy fashion with McEvoy’s early promise failing to develop into a performance of true substance. There was little sense of control from either side, though a sweet shot from Hannesson forced McNulty into a scratchy save at his near post on 57 minutes.
Aaron Callaghan sent Dave Scully on to take up the central striking position, with Wilson moving into a more familiar role wide on the left. Still Bohs struggled to take control. Thor remained doggedly organised as composure on the ball became a rare commodity indeed.
Thor centre back Andri Albertsson created the next chance worth mentioning on 67 minutes when he wound his way along the dead-ball line before slipping a low pass in to the feet of Hilmarsson. Standing just six yards from goal he should have done better than allow the chance to be smothered by the home defence.
As the time ebbed away the danger of a rogue error costing either side became ever more likely. The game became a series of disorganised sorties from one goal to the other, with Bohemians eventually working their way to a more coherent rhythm. They certainly caused more problems than Thor, but failed to genuinely threaten the away side’s goal.
With seven minutes on the clock Ryan McEvoy almost claimed a win with one of his trademark belters from distance, turning onto Dave Mulcahy’s pass before whipping his shot inches beyond Rajkovic’s right hand post.
Right on 90 minutes Janez Vrenko almost provided the killer mistake, upending McEvoy on the lip of the box. McEvoy took the free, firing it over the wall and forcing Rajkovic to punch into the path of Scully. But the ‘keeper recovered and the chance was gone.
Aaron Callaghan will be pleased to have achieved his aim of not conceding an away goal but this was a frustrating performance from Bohemians and it is a result that means they have a tough task ahead of them in Northern Iceland this time next week.
Bohemians: Andrew McNulty; Owen Heary, Evan McMillan, Kevin Feely, Luke Byrne; Keith Buckley, Dave Mulcahy (Stephen Traynor 86), Keith Ward, Ryan McEvoy, Peter McMahon (David Scully 58); Dwayne Wilson (Karl Moore 76).
Subs not used: Craig Sexton (gk), Derek Pender, Roberto Lopes, Danny Joyce.
Bookings: Wilson (53), Scully (90+2).
Thor Akureyri: Srdjan Rajkovic; Andri Albertsson (Kristinn Bjornsson 76), Atli Albertsson, Janez Vrenko, Guiseppe Funicello; Sveinn Jonsson, Sigurdur Kristjansson, Orri Hjaltalin, Halldor Hjaltason (Armann Aevarsson 66); Ingi Hilmarsson, Johann Hannesson (Robin Stromberg 76).
Subs not used: Gudmundur Vignisson (gk), Baldvin Olafsson, Kristjan Magnusson, Kristjan Hannesson.
Bookings: Hilmarsson (13), Hannesson (71), Vrenko (90).
Referee: Jovan Kaludjerovic.
Extratime Man of the Match: Luke Byrne (Bohemians).
Simon O'Gorman began reporting for Extratime in 2010. He remembers Milltown and Flower Lodge and, back in the mists of time, saw Diego Maradona play at Lansdowne Road. He now lives in Co Kildare and reports on Shamrock Rovers among others. Simon can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org