Jason Molly’s superb free kick was the difference between UCD and Mervue United at Belfield on Friday night as the Students failed to make it three wins out of three in their pre-season matches.
UCD started the game well and were full of confidence after their 2-1 win over Shamrock Rovers last week. The first chance of the game came in the 12th minute when Samir Belhout tested Mervue keeper Conor Gleeson with a powerful shot from just outside the box, with Gleeson making a good save.
The students continued to dominate and Tyrone McNelis was causing all sorts of problems for Mervue left back Marc Ludden, twisting and turning and whipping balls into the box which caused the Mervue centre backs, Martin Conneely and Stephen Walsh to concede lots of corners. But UCD just couldn’t find the back of the net.
In the 33rd minute, after a surging run forward from UCD left back Gareth Matthews, he tried his luck from 30 yards out but missed the target. Finally in the 39th minute the deadlock was broken but not by UCD.
After Mervue striker Brendan Lavelle was fouled by College right back Hugh Douglas just outside the box, Jason Molloy brilliantly curled the ball into the corner of UCD ‘keeper Mark McGinley’s net, giving him no chance.
The second half began with both sides making a lot of substitutions. Just as in the first half UCD began the second half dominating proceedings and trying to force and equaliser. In the 60th minute UCD had a golden opportunity to level the game when substitute Craig Walsh was put through on goal by Graham Kelly. But with only the keeper to beat his shot was far too close to Gleeson who palmed the ball away to safety.
Only five minutes later Gleeson made another save to deny the students when Tom O’Halloran whipped a cross into Dean Clarke who hit a powerful shot that the Mervue keeper did well to fist over the bar for a corner.
Mervue were struggling to create chances and could find no way past the brilliant James Kavanagh at centre back. In the 75th minutes UCD winger Tom O’Halloran got past Tom King and delivered a cross into Craig Walsh who volleyed at goal only for Gleeson to make a wonderful save with his feet.
UCD continued to press but Mervue continued to frustrate them with last ditch defending and with Gleeson in such fine form getting a ball past him was becoming mission impossible. With ten minutes to go Clarke had another crack at goal which was easily saved by the ever so impressive Gleeson.
In the 82nd minute UCD got a free kick in a dangerous position but Craig Walsh hit his free kick over the wall but high over the bar as well. UCD continued to push for the equaliser in the final few minutes but it never came and Mervue hung on for a great win.
UCD: Marc McGinley (Ger Barron 46); Hugh Douglas, Tomas Boyle, James Kavanagh, Gareth Matthews (Ryan McLaughlin 46); Tyrone McNelis (Dean Clarke 46), Robbie Creevy (Barry O’Mahony ), Barry McCabe (Graham Kelly 46), Gary Burke (Craig Walsh 46), Samir Belhout (Tom O’Halloran 46); Dinny Corcoran (Cillian Morrison 46).
Subs not used: None.
Mervue United: Conor Gleeson; Joe Woods, Martin Conneely (Alex Hitticoff 46), Stephen Walsh, Marc Ludden (Ross Kenny 46); Tom King, Gary Curran (Oscar Sibanda 78), Shane Keogh (Gary Kelly 46), Paul Sinnott, Jason Molloy; Brendan Lavelle (Alex Lee 46).
Subs not used: None.
Referee: Paul Tuite.
Extratime Man of the Match: Conor Gleeson (Mervue United).