David Wilson reports from Richmond Park
Harry Kenny was the winner of Friday night's tactical battle with Vinny Perth in Richmond Park as St Pat's secured victory over champions Dundalk by one goal to nil.
On a mild night in Inchicore St. Pat's looked to turn their form around after five games without a win. Dundalk on the other hand were looking to add to their one away win of the season.
The deciding goal came when Daniel Cleary slid in and inadvertently diverted a Rhys McCabe cross past his goalkeeper in the 46th minute. Pat’s had built up play well down the left before McCabe was released into space. His cross zipped along the surface before Cleary’s decisive interception.
Dundalk had started well and in the opening ten minutes they kept possession but, without producing an end product or final pass, they never looked like creating an opening. Pat’s on the other hand kept their shape well in a 3-5-1-1, and were hard to break down whilst looking to break quickly themselves.
The opening chance fell to Dan Kelly after 11 minutes after a misdirected header from Webster, however Kelly’s first touch inside the box was poor and the chance was gone.
McCabe and Conor Clifford began to get on top after the opening ten minutes and pressed higher up the pitch, winning the ball back in good areas. Dundalk found it hard to get into their usual rhythm of passing and moving due to the well drilled St. Pats team.
It took 28 minutes for Dundalk to register their first shot in anger from a Michael Duffy free kick after neat link up play from Sean Murray, Jamie McGrath and Sean Gannon.
Thirty-nine minutes in Clifford tried an acrobatic over-head kick from eight yards out from a good Simon Madden delivery. Pats were on top now as Clifford, McCabe and the excellent Jamie Lennon took control.
Pats went into the break deservedly in the lead and in the second half Vinny Perth was encouraging his team to press higher up the park to give themselves a foothold the game. However, Pats started brightly themselves and the Louthmen were pinned deep in their own half.
Pats knew when to press and pressed in the right areas when they knew they had an overload. Dundalk were forced to go slightly more direct, but Patrick Hoban failed to bring his teammates into play.
The introduction of Jordan Flores and John Mountney gave Dundalk a slightly better platform in which to build but again end product lacked.
Dundalk went closest through Sean Murray’s shooting from outside the box. First, a right footed effort was saved well by Brendan Clarke, followed by a volley which just drifted wide of the far post in the 82nd minute.
Georgie Kelly was introduced with five minutes to go and was almost immediately awarded a penalty as Toner went through the back of him. The Dundalk players and bench were up in arms, but referee Ray Matthews waved the protests away.
Pats were tiring now but the back three which then became a back five of Simon Madden, David Webster, Kevin Toner, Lee Desmond and Ian Bermingham stood firm.
Five minutes into injury time, Dundalk’s best chance of the match fell to Hoban. A long ball was flicked on by Georgie Kelly into the path of the Galway man who controlled with his knee before placing the ball across the ‘keeper and just wide of the far post.
Harry Kenny will be delighted with how his team dug in and fought for the much needed three points. Vinny Perth and his side will head back up the M1 and look to a busy month of April where they will need to pick up points as Shamrock Rovers race ahead in the league table.
St. Patricks Athletic: Brendan Clarke; Simon Madden, David Webster, Kevin Toner, Ian Bermimgham (c); Jamie Lennon, Lee Desmond, Conor Clifford, Chris Forrester (Cian Coleman 87), Rhys McCabe; Gary Shaw (Jake Walker 91).
Subs not used: Barry Murphy (gk), Ciaran Kelly, Paul Cleary, Darragh Markey, James Doona.
Booked: Rhys McCabe (28), Conor Clifford (78).
Dundalk: Gary Rogers; Sean Gannon, Brian Gartland (c) (John Mountney 76), Daniel Cleary, Dane Massey; Sean Hoare, Sean Murray, Michael Duffy, Jamie McGrath (Georgie Kelly 85), Daniel Kelly (Jordan Flores 58); Patrick Hoban.
Subs not used: Aaron McCarey (gk), Joe McKee, Cameron Dummigan, Dean Jarvis.
Booked: Dane Massey (40).
Referee: Ray Matthews
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Jamie Lennon (St. Patricks Athletic).