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St. Pat’s ensured they put one hand on the final Europa League spot thanks to a 2-1 victory at Richmond Park on Friday evening. A second-half penalty from Conan Byrne was cancelled out by Alan Byrne before a wonder goal from Christy Fagan ensure the Saint were victorious in front of the live RTÉ cameras.
In a match which both sides needed a victory for different reason, it was the away side who had the game's first opportunity when Keith Treacy beat James Chambers before his low shot from the edge of the Pat’s box was parried away by Conor O’Malley.
Soon after, O’Malley was called into action again when the ‘keeper was quick to race off his line to deny Lee Duffy after the forward was attempting to race onto a Sean Thornton through ball. From the resulting clearance, the Saints broke up the field and Fagan latched onto a cross from the left, but the forward could not direct his effort towards goal.
With Pat’s starting to find a foot in the game, the home side created two quick opportunities. First Killian Brennan, playing at centre-back for the Saints, found Conan Byrne with a lovely ball over the top.
Byrne’s cross into the box was cleared off Fagan’s toes for a corner by Alan Byrne. Ian Morris was next to try his luck, but his long range effort failed to trouble Micheal Schlingermann in the Drogs goal.
Irish international Treacy would have Drogs next opportunity soon after the Morris chance, but this time the midfielder shot was easily gathered by O’Malley. With the sides continuing to swop chances, Alan Byrne was lucky not to see yellow when he handled a Morris shot on the edge of the box.
From the resulting free-kick, Schlingermann was forced into a brilliant save when his one handed effort denied Brennan who’s shot appeared to be heading for the roof of the net.
As Treacy continued to create opportunities for his side, the midfielder had two quick chances; first his shot was deflected behind for a corner, before his delivery after the initial corner was half cleared sailed just over the Pat’s crossbar.
With the Saints continuing to look dangerous going forward, Schlingermann would again be called into action after an Aaron Greene delivery found Jamie McGrath and his headed effort was going towards goal, but the ‘keeper was in no mood to be beaten and saved onece again.
Moments later, Pat’s had the ball in the Drogs net, but referee Neil Doyle ruled Killian Brennan’s effort out for a foul on the keeper.
When Liam Buckley’s side emerged from the half-time team talk, they were quick to settle into their stride and Morris, one of Pat's standout performers in first-half ,had the half’s first effort; his shot from outside the box however sailed over the crossbar.
Less than ten minutes into the second-half, the home side grabbed the game's first goal after Christy Fagan was fouled by Drogs skipper Michael Daly. Byrne stepped up to send Schlingmann the wrong way.
Pat’s had another good chance soon after, but Lee Desmond's low effort was deflected behind for a corner. Despite taking a second-half lead, the Saints’ advantage would last less than ten minutes.
On the hour mark, Drogs were awarded a corner and Treacy’s delivery picked out Thornton whose knockdown fell to Alan Byrne who headed home from close range.
Despite conceding soon after taking the lead, Pat’s were quick to respond. Conan Byrne headed wide before McGrath had a great chance from close range after he gathered a Greene knockdown, but Schlingermann saved showing some great reflexes.
Moments after McGrath’s effort, Pat’s restored their advantage when Fagan picked the ball up deep inside the Drogs half off an Ian Morris pass. Fagan’s run left O’Reilly behind before the forward fired a left footed shot into the right corner for his sixth goal of the season.
With Pat’s in the ascendency, McGrath, though he’d made it 3-1 after he played a one-two with Greene, but Schlingermann saved well to his deny the19 year old from the edge of the box.
After almost giving his side a two goal lead, McGrath had a great opportunity after some neat interplay by Pat’s which saw the ball came to the forward, but his effort from the edge of the box was straight at the goalkeeper.
Schlingermann was again called into action soon after, when the Saints cleared a Drogheda free-kick and broke from deep. Byrne picked out Greene free at the edge of the box and his shot was easily gathered by the keeper.
Deep into injury time, Drogs had a chance to equalise after a goalmouth scramble, but they failed to get an effort on goal before the ball fell to Treacy whose effort was easily gathered by O’Malley.
St Patrick's Athletic: Conor O’Malley; Lee Desmond, Shane McEleney, Killian Brennan, Ian Bermingham; James Chambers; Conan Byrne, Aaron Greene (Sam Verdon 88), Ian Morris, Jamie McGrath; Christy Fagan.
Subs Not Used: Pat Jennings, Ciaran Kelly, Darragh Markey, Paul Rooney, Morgan Langley, Jack Bayly.
Booked: Bermingham (85).
Drogheda United: Micheal Schlingermann; Michael Daly, Alan Byrne, Robert O'Reilly, Joe Gorman; Robert Bayly (Tiernan Mulvenna 88); Keith Treacy, Sean Thornton, Mark Hughes (Sean Brennan 78), Jason Marks; Lee Duffy (Robert McKenna 62).
Subs Not Used: Liam Donnelly, Gerald Pender, Adam Whelan, Shane McGowan.
Match Referee: Neil Doyle
Extratime Man of the Match: Michael Schlingermann (Drogheda United)