St. Pat’s on top as Derry continue to struggle – LOI Lowdown

St. Patrick’s Athletic have moved to the top of the SSE Airtricity Premier Division albeit only on goal difference while Finn Harps and Sligo Rovers have also maintained their unbeaten starts to the season. Meanwhile in the First Division a red mist continues to shroud Treaty United who have somehow managed to go unbeaten in their opening three games despite finishing all of those fixtures with 10 men!

Without further ado let’s get into the action!

Premier Division

St. Patrick’s Athletic 2-0 Derry City

Second-half strikes from Robbie Benson and Darragh Burns steered St Patrick’s Athletic to the top of the table and a 2-0 victory at the expense of Derry City.

Stephen O’Donnell’s Saints controlled the tie and eased to a third straight win to move clear above Finn Harps and Sligo Rovers, for one night at least.

The hapless Candystripes played an hour with ten men following the dismissal of Danny Lupano and rarely looked likely to come away from Inchicore with their first points of the season.

The early signs were good as the Candystripes played aggressively and disrupted Pats’ passing game early doors, though Lupano was a little reckless in picking up a yellow for a lunge on Matty Smith.

They did manage to create the game’s first clear chance as Jack Malone dug out a cross for James Akintunde, but he couldn’t steer his header inside the near post.

That high line left space in behind for Saints to exploit, however, and Smith did just that to spin the centre-half and race clear.

Lupano tugged the winger’s shirt and referee Ben Connolly was left with no alternative but to issue a second caution after just half an hour.

Derry initially looked comfortable with the transition to a flat back four but the extra space brought the passing games of Chris Forrester and Benson to the fore.

Forrester was one of three to test Northern Ireland under-21 keeper Nathan Gartside before the break, Smith and Ian Bermingham the others, but each found the stopper equal to the task.

The pressure kept coming after the break, however, and the dam was eventually breached on the hour mark, courtesy of Benson.

Rónán Coughlan weaved his way through a crowd scene in the Derry box and laid the ball off for Benson to slot home.

And the points were sealed ten minutes later as substitute Burns latched onto an outstanding Sam Bone through ball, drove into the box and curled the ball expertly into the corner.

Dundalk 0-1 Bohemian FC

Georgie Kelly came back to haunt his old club Dundalk as his 12th-minute penalty earned Bohemians their first win of the season at Oriel Park.

Both sides came into the game with just a single point from their opening three league matches to date but it was the 24-year-old – released by the Lilywhites after being shipped out on loan last season – who decided the contest with what was just the second penalty of his career.

Peter Cherrie was selected in goal for Dundalk for the first time since the title-winning final game of the 2014 season but he could do little as Kelly sent him the wrong way after Daniel Cleary had upended Ross Tierney in the box.

Keith Long’s side had the better of the exchanges after that and will hope this result can kick-start their season on a day when the club received the good news that the redevelopment of Dalymount Park had moved to the design and planning stage.

For Dundalk, the result means they have equalled the club’s worst ever start to a top flight campaign. 2006 in the First Division was the only year in the club’s history where they had less points after four matches having lost the first four games of that season under John Gill.

The home side started well on top and should have taken the lead on four minutes when Andy Boyle crashed a header from Michael Duffy’s free kick.

Duffy then pulled a shot just wide two minutes later before Raivis Jurkovskis fired across the face of goal from Patrick Hoban’s cross on 11 minutes.

The Latvian international would be at fault, however, for the lead goal for Bohemians a minute later.

A heavy touch allowed Ross Tierney to skip past him with the youngster hauled down by Daniel Cleary. Kelly then stepped up to what was just the second penalty kick he has ever taken in a game and sent Cherrie the wrong way for what was the 50th league goal of his career.

Dundalk were almost level within two minutes of the restart after Bohs keeper James Talbot was deceived by Hoban’s attempted flick from Duffy’s cross but James Finnerty was back covering to hook the ball clear on the line.

Patrick McEleney was introduced at half-time in place of Han Jeong Woo and was given a chance to level matters with a free kick on 54 minutes but despite curling his effort around the wall it was straight into the midriff of Talbot.

The 23-year-old then denied Sam Stanton following a goalmouth scramble before Ole Erik Midtskogen flashed a header from Duffy’s corner just across the face of goal in what was his last act of the game on 63 minutes.

Dundalk had strong calls for a penalty with two minutes to go when Darragh Leahy’s cross appeared to strike the arm of Cornwall but referee Harvey waved away the appeals, much to the frustration of the home side.

Despite four minutes of added time the home side couldn’t find a breakthrough with Duffy slicing wide from the edge of the area with their last attempt.

Finn Harps 2-1 Waterford FC

Dave Webster smashed home an injury-time winner to give Finn Harps a dramatic win over Waterford FC at Finn Park.

Just when it looked like it would finish with both teams taking a point apiece, the Harps captain finished marvellously into the top corner with all he had as Waterford just couldn’t get a Barry McNamee corner away from their crowded box.

It means that Ollie Horgan’s side move to second in the table, still unbeaten, and only behind St Patrick’s Athletic on goal difference.

John Martin opened the scoring for Waterford only for the hosts to get back on terms before half-time with Adam Foley the scorer.

Although the visitors started the brighter amid sunshine and snow, neither goalkeeper was called into serious action for large chunks of the opening 45 minutes.

A bullet header from Martin on 35 minutes edged Waterford in front and it was the first time Harps had been in arrears all season. Martin was completely unchallenged as he rose highest in the penalty area to head home a Jamie Mascoll free from the right.

The lead would be short-lived as just six minutes later, Foley was on hand to take a touch and smash his fourth goal of the season, shooting past Barry Murphy after decent play from Barry McNamee and Karl O’Sullivan in the build-up.

Harps began the third quarter laying siege on the Waterford goal with Murphy turning away a Russell shot and then a series of dangerous corners and penalty appeals.

Kosovar Sadiki glanced a header wide from a McNamee free-kick on 72 minutes. At the other end, Waterford’s substitutes Isaac Tshipamba Mulowayi and Daryl Muphy combined with the former putting in an excellent cross from the right only for Mark Anthony McGinley in the Harps goal to save the header from former Republic of Ireland international Murphy.

Will Seymore and Mark Coyle both warmed the hands of Waterford goalkeeper Murphy in the final 15 minutes, before the real drama came at the bitter end.

Longford Town 0-4 Drogheda United

A superlative display from Mark Doyle, who scored twice, destroyed Longford Town as Drogheda United comfortably won the battle of the promoted sides at Bishopsgate.

Chris Lyons and skipper on the night, Hugh Douglas, added the other goals as Drogheda’s second win of the campaign moves Tim Clancy’s side up to fourth in the table.

The home side began the brighter with Joe Manley slicing wide inside four minutes after Drogheda struggled to clear a Dylan Grimes free kick.

Drogheda goalkeeper Colin McCabe then somewhat clumsily punched away a long-range free kick from Aodh Dervin with Rob Manley heading the rebound wide.

Drogheda threatened for the first time on 14 minutes, Doyle fizzing a low centre across the Town goal with Lyons just unable to get the vital touch.

Doyle was proving Drogheda’s main foil, almost catching Town skipper Lee Stacey off his line with a looping header that dropped just wide from a long ball from his Douglas.

And the Drogheda striker duly got his reward to put the visitors ahead on 35 minutes, if from the most scrappy goal you might ever see.

Darragh Markey initially fed Doyle on the left who, having nutmegged Joe Manley, brought a parry save from Stacey.

And though Lyons’ follow up header was touched onto his crossbar by Stacey, Markey got a touch to the dropping ball before Doyle stabbed it over the line in a right goalmouth scramble.

Looking for an immediate response, Grimes brought a fine diving save from McCabe at the other end with a low shot from distance.

Gary Deegan and Lyons carved Town open to put Doyle in one-on-one. Stacey raced out smartly to make the save with his feet.

Stacey, though, was caught all at sea as Drogheda got a second goal lead six minutes after the break.

James Brown was the instigator, working a one-two with Doyle, before arcing a superb cross in for Lyons to stretch and toe into the net with Stacey inexplicably stranded at his far post.

Further poor defending cost Longford on 56 minutes as Drogheda extended their lead.

Conor Kane galloped away on the left to deliver a sublime cross.

Joe Manley completely missed the ball, allowing Doyle to get a downward header that flew into the far bottom corner.

Douglas completed the rout when meeting Ronan Murray’s free kick to head home on 67 minutes.

Sligo Rovers 1-1 Shamrock Rovers

There was calamity at either end late on as Sligo Rovers and Shamrock Rovers maintained their unbeaten start to the season with a 1-1 draw at the Showgrounds.

Hoops goalkeeper Alan Mannus allowed a speculative drive from Walter Figueira slip between his hands for what looked like a Bit O’Red winner with eight minutes to go.

But Sligo were to be denied what would have been a third win in four when luckless defender John Mahon turned the ball into his own net in added time.

Sligo came into this tie ahead of their opponents in the league table for the first time since they themselves were reigning champions in 2013.

But it was the current title holders who threatened first when Graham Burke had Sligo goalkeeper Ed McGinty at full stretch to push the striker’s effort wide, after Burke hand linked up with Dylan Watts and Ronan Finn.

Both camps were seeking to end either’s unbeaten start to 2021 and it was the Connaught men who began this second period the brighter.

Figueira could only stab Colm Horgan’s cross past Mannus’ back post after stellar interplay between both Horgan and Gibson on the Sligo right.

Sean Hoare was forced to atone for his own error on 65 when he recovered well to take the ball off substitute Ryan De Vries’ toe at the front stick. This, after the centre half had conceded possession to Gibson who supplied the cross towards the waiting New Zealander.

But the Dubliners’ woes were at the other end as Sligo nudged ahead with eight to go.

With nothing on in front of him, Figueira decided to hit what was a chance effort from distance which somehow squirmed its way between Mannus’ hands and beyond the dismayed goalkeeper.

As expected, the Tallaght side threw everything at it for the remainder.

A Lee Grace header from a corner was repelled by the Sligo defence, before disaster then struck at the Sligo end when Mahon turned Gaffney’s cross past McGinty.

The champions spurned a wonderful chance to take all the points in added time, but Chris McCann misjudged the flight of the ball whilst unmarked in front of goal. His header dragging harmlessly wide.

This weekend’s fixtures:

Friday April 16th

  • Waterford FC v Bohemian FC
  • Derry City v Drogheda United

Saturday April 17th 

  • Dundalk v St. Patrick’s Athletic
  • Shamrock Rovers v Longford Town
  • Sligo Rovers v Finn Harps

League table:

First Division

Cork City 0-1 Athlone Town

Athlone Town hit the top of the First Division table after a hard-fought win away to Cork City at Turner’s Cross.

The hosts were seeking to bounce back from a blunt display in their defeat away to Cabinteely last week, while their guests had a 3-1 win at home to a fancied Galway United side to build on.

Athlone started brightly and should have opened the scoring after three minutes. A diagonal ball from left to right caught the home defence napping, and Stephen Meany was able to hook back across goal for Adam Wixted.

His effort was too close to veteran goalkeeper Mark McNulty, who clawed it away. No Athlone player was close enough to turn the ball home and City scrambled clear.

The home side then asserted themselves and had the majority of the play for the remainder of the first half. Cian Bargary’s long throws were a useful weapon, and McGlade should have done better when one such missile was flicked on by Walsh.

Wixted then almost found Byrne with a floated cross from the right that wrong-footed the City defence, the former Hibernian man inches too short at full stretch. However Athlone weren’t to be denied minutes later.

Hakkinen dallied too long on what should have been a routine clearance, allowing Wixted to nick the ball before the Finn could put his foot through it. Doona ran onto the loose ball and his left-footed shot, although central, wrong-footed McNulty from twenty yards.

City never looked like scoring in the remaining thirteen minutes. Substitutes Cian Murphy and Beineoin O’Brien Whitmarsh offered enthusiasm but little guile, and the starters appeared to run out of steam and ideas.

Cabinteely v Galway United 

Postponed following a positive covid case in the Cabinteely camp.

UCD 0-0 Bray Wanderers

It was stalemate at the UCD Bowl on Friday night as the Students and the Seagulls played out a scoreless draw, a result that leaves both teams in mid-table positions – UCD in third position on five points and Bray in sixth with three points.

A 0-0 score line is normally prefaced with the descriptor ‘boring’’ but this game was anything but. Both sides played really attractive football, full of attacking intent, very little long ball or route one stuff and all that was missing was their ability to find the back of the net.

The visitors were quickest out of the blocks and they dominated the first 10 minutes with Brandon Kavanagh, two goal hero in their match against Shelbourne, and Ryan Graydon both causing a lot of trouble for the home defence.

UCD’s only response in the opening period was a shot on target by Liam Kerrigan but it did not trouble Republic of Ireland under-21 keeper Brian Maher in the Bray goal.

The home side took over after the opening phases of play however and began attacking Bray on all fronts with Colm Whelan a thorn in their side at centre forward. He ran at the Bray defence at every opportunity and giving his direct marker, centre back Aaron Barry, a difficult time.

Whelan was well supported by his colleagues, with the diminutive Sean Brennan particularly prominent in the middle of the park. Brennan had a speculative shot himself in the 38th minute but he got under the ball too much and it sailed high and wide.

Andy Myler’s men did force a number of corners during their period of dominance but a lack of height in their attacking function meant they were all dealt with comfortably by the Bray defence.

UCD started the second half in the same positive attacking mode and had claims for a penalty turned away by referee Kevin O’Sullivan when full back Evan Weir appeared to be taken down in the box in the 52nd minute.

In a mirror image of the first half, Bray then took control of the match and began to dominate proceedings for most of the remainder of the second half but alas no one could end the stalemate.

Treaty United 1-1 Cobh Ramblers

The Munster derby ended level at the Markets Field as Treaty United drew 1-1 with Cobh Ramblers.

Sean McSweeney opened the scoring after a quarter of an hour while Darryl Walsh was on target for the visitors who had to play for an hour with ten men following Charlie Fleming’s red card.

Forty seconds in and Cobh already had their first chance as former Limerick player Ian Turner forced a save from Tadhg Ryan.

The Treaty net minder was making a welcome return to the Treaty side following his recovery from injury and so too was midfielder Sean McSweeney.

McSweeney was absent from the win over Wexford through suspension and he marked his return in style with the opening goal as early as the 15th minute.

Darren Murphy gave the ball away deep inside his own half and Treaty worked it to McSweeney who calmly slotted it in the bottom corner.

The hosts almost doubled their advantage soon after that when a well delivered corner from Marc Ludden found Jack Lynch in acres of space, but the Treaty captain headed over.

Discipline has been a persistent problem for Treaty this season and the issue resurfaced yet again just after the half hour mark.

Charlie Fleming was about to get a yellow card for an alleged dive before clashing with Darryl Walsh which earned him a straight red instead, that’s now three successive matches where Treaty’s had a player dismissed.

The visitors had an extra man but still found meaningful chances hard to come by in the first period.

That said they almost found an equaliser on the stroke of half-time when David O’Leary had a few stylish touches before blasting over from close range.

Cobh Ramblers looked a rejuvenated side after the resumption and Lee Devitt almost pulled one back after he was beautifully set up by Turner.

Just over a minute later, the Rams were off the mark when a superb first-time shot from Darryl Walsh found the net.

Chances were scarce for the Limerick based outfit in the second half, but substitute Ed McCarthy blew a golden chance to restore the lead after he was played in by Marc Ludden wide left.

Minutes later, Cobh had a flurry of chances as Killian Cooper and Jake Hegarty both tried their luck but failed to score leaving the sides deadlocked at 1-1.

Both sides pressed for an equaliser in the dying minutes but there was none forthcoming resulting in a stalemate in Limerick.

It meant that Cobh picked up their first points of the season following consecutive defeats in their opening two games while Treaty United remain undefeated in their maiden season.

Shelbourne FC 1-0 Wexford FC

Title hopefuls Shelbourne clinched their first win of their campaign on Friday evening with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Wexford at Tolka Park.

The Reds were perhaps fortunate in the way they won the game, with Conor Crowley’s own-goal the difference between the sides.

The defeat will come as a cruel blow to the visitors who stifled their more illustrious hosts – not that it matters to Shels who are now up and running on the winning column this season.

The hosts started the better of the sides, albeit marginally – with JJ Lunney directing the play at will. However, it was his midfield partner Ryan Brennan who was at the heart of most of their threatening play.

Shels had a notable penalty shout in the ninth minute of the game – but referee Gavin Colfer waved away the protests.

The Reds actual first chance of the game came through debutant Barker – but Georgie Poynton could not convert his expert cross.

Wexford then had a chance of their own via Paul Fox – but he never got a good enough strike on the ball to trouble Brendan Clarke from a misplaced Ally Gilchrist headed clearance.

The Slaneysiders continued to impress as the half wore on – limiting the hosts to few chances.

Having struggled in spells during the first-half, Shels emerged a much-improved side in the second period, but they did cough up the first chance of the half.

The lively Fox went close with an acrobatic effort – but it was never troubling Clarke in all truth.

Shels forward Michael O’Connor went close just before the hour mark – as he headed Barker’s sumptuous delivery over the bar.

But the breakthrough finally came on the hour mark – albeit in fortunate circumstances.

Wexford’s Crowley was the unlucky player who turned into his own net as he tried to clear a wayward headed clearance by his own defender.

Ian Morris’ charges sensed blood following their opener – and Michael O’Connor then went close, but his downward header just went over the bar.

However, Wexford stayed a threat, with Crowley blazing over the bar following a poor Gilchrist clearance.

The Slaneysiders fashioned the last real opening of the game five minutes from time, as James Carroll’s header was well saved by Shels ‘keeper Clarke.

That was it for the hosts in terms of salvaging a point, as Shelbourne clinched their first three points of the season to move into third position in the league table.

Wexford remain in tenth, but they will take positives from their display as they take on Cobh Ramblers next.

This weekend’s fixtures:

Friday April 16th

  • Bray Wanderers v Athlone Town
  • Wexford FC v Cobh Ramblers
  • Cork City v Shelbourne FC
  • UCD v Cabinteely
  • Galway United v Treaty United

League table:

 

While it remains early days in both divisions pressure is mounting on some managers to get their sides performing to a higher level, Dundalk and Derry City will certainly be anxious to see an upturn in their fortunes in the not too distant future. The First Division looks incredibly competitive with the race for promotion shaping up to be an exciting affair.Be sure to check back next week for the latest round of results.

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