Dundalk’s eight-match unbeaten run in the SSE Airtricity League came to an abrupt end on Friday night as they were defeated 1-0 by Bohemians in treacherous conditions at Oriel Park.
Ismahil Akinade – often a menacing character when facing the Lilywhites – was again the scourge of Dundalk as it was his screamer, worthy of winning any match, that was the difference between the sides.
Having finally conceded their League of Ireland crown without even playing last Tuesday, Stephen Kenny was able to rest several key players for Dundalk’s final home game of the season, with one eye on their FAI Cup final showdown with Cork City just two weeks from Sunday.
Bohs, on the other hand, were forced into making changes which, as a result, had a typical end of season feel to it with both teams struggling to stamp any real authority, though it’s fair to say that the players weren’t helped by what were surely the worst conditions seen at Oriel for many a year.
Indeed, it was Bohs who created the first chance of the night as early as the second minute after Niclas Vemmelund – who didn’t enjoy his best night in a Dundalk shirt – was dispossessed by Paddy Kavanagh. His pass found its way to Dinny Corcoran but the centre forward’s effort was saved by Gary Rogers.
Dundalk almost used the adverse weather conditions to their advantage when Jamie McGrath’s long-range shot, with assistance from the forceful wind, almost caught out Shane Supple but the Bohemians stopper would have been relieved to see the ball cannon off the post and not into the back of his net.
Supple was almost left red-faced once again after he spilled a Robbie Benson shot into the path of David McMillan, who needed little invitation to tap into an empty net, but the flag went up and the goal was ruled out for offside, much to the delight of the Bohs keeper and frustration of the Oriel Park faithful.
The visitors came close to what would have been an unlikely lead when Kavanagh’s corner from the left was turned over the bar by Corcoran, before McGrath broke through at the other end to cross for Thomas Stewart but he couldn’t add to his two league goals this season, directing his effort well wide of the target.
Keith Long’s hard-working side then took a surprise lead just one minute before half time, when Akinade latched on to a loose ball in the Dundalk defence before unleashing an unstoppable shot from 25 yards past the despairing Rogers, sending the travelling contingent of Bohs supporters into raptures.
The Gypsies almost doubled their advantage when Akinade – a constant thorn in Dundalk’s side – broke down the left flank before squaring for Corcoran but Rogers got down well to produce another save.
Dundalk then had claims for what looked a stonewall penalty waved away by referee Derek Tomney in stoppage time when substitute Jamie Hamilton appeared to have bundled over Chris Shields in the box.
Bohs held on for the three points which guarantees them a top-half finish in the Premier Division.
Dundalk: Gary Rogers; Niclas Vemmelund, Brian Gartland, Sean Hoare, Shane Grimes (Carlton Ubaezuonu 81); Sean Gannon, Chris Shields, Robbie Benson, Thomas Stewart (Jake O’Connor 85); Jamie McGrath, David McMillan.
Subs not used: Gabriel Sava, Ben Kelly, Dean Watters, Eric Whelan, Jack O’Keefe.
Bohemians: Shane Supple; Dylan Hayes, Rob Cornwall, Dan Casey, Derek Pender; Ismahil Akinade, Oscar Brennan, Ian Morris (Dan Byrne 76), Paddy Kavanagh; Philip Gannon (Jamie Hamilton 89), Dinny Corcoran.
Subs not used: Colin McCabe, Lorcan Fitzgerald, Keith Dalton, Eoin Wearen, Andy Lyons.
Booked: Brennan (44), Hayes (50), Cornwall (55).
Referee: Derek Tomney.
ExtraTime.ie Man of the Match: Ismahil Akinade (Bohemians).