UCD are now without a goal in their last four league games but seldom can a scoreless draw have offered so many chances or been so utterly committed to forward play. A point a piece was both fair and honourable, but how it wasn’t four all is anybody’s guess.
Both sides started brightly and the first chance of the game came in
the seventh minute when a Paul Corry corner found Evan McMillan
lurking at the back post. The UCD man’s header was firm and accurate
but Darren Quigley was in the right place to save at the second
Soon afterwards Sporting began to find their feet with Conan Byrne making some progress down the right flank and Gary O’Neill starting to look lively in the centre. It was Byrne who found O’Neill in the 11th minute when the Fingal hit-man turned and shot smartly only for Brian Shortall to get an important block.
This was followed by a Byrne corner that was delivered to the far post and worked back into the middle where ex UCD captain, Ronan Finn, smacked a twenty yard shot narrowly wide.
It was time for UCD to have a go and on 20 minutes Chris Mulhall sent David McMillan past Maher with a surgical pass that had the crowd of 345 on the edge of their seats. He should have done better than allow Kenny Browne to block, twice.
With half an hour gone UCD were back on the attack again when a lovely through ball from Peter McMahon beat Kenny Browne’s stretching head and Ciaran Kilduff found himself behind Fingal’s defensive line. Fortunately for the Ravens, Shaun Maher was covering and, under pressure, Kilduff dragged his shot across goal.
Half time arrived without either side having breached the scoreline but there was no shortage of promise. Kilduff, particularly, was linking up nicely with Mulhall and McMahon constantly probing an uncertain Fingal defence. Fingal, meanwhile, would have been encouraged by Billy Brennan’s skittishness under high balls.
UCD didn’t take long to threaten at the restart. An Evan McMillan header looped over the bar and then Shortall drove into the box before shooting too high. Ger O’Brien fed O’Neill at the other end but his shot was blocked. Back came UCD again, a cross from Bolger finding David McMillan all on his own at the far post, but the forwards delicate touch, incredibly, passed across goal unhindered.
Just before the hour mark three chances came in quick succession. Kilduff showed great control on the edge of the box but Quigley was out quickly. At the opposite end Finn spun an exquisite cross onto O’Neill’s head but the striker’s effort slipped wide. Then O’Neill provided a ball for Zayed who blasted the ball just the wrong side of Brennan’s left post.
It was Zayed’s last act with Glen Crowe coming on to partner O’Neill up front in a more aggressive 4-4-2. Oddly this seemed to calm things down and, despite the ambitious play of O’Brien, Byrne and Finn, a period of relative calm descended.
At least until the 75th minute when another sub brought things back to life. Young Dwayne Wilson came into the UCD attack in place of David McMillan and immediately forced a corner. With two goals in his last two games, he had the student’s fans believing again.
Gary O’Neill induced some third level coronaries when he chipped the ball into the UCD net with ten minutes to go but, cruelly denied by an off-side flag, the baton passed to Wilson who tore up the left flank and set up Chris Mulhall who side footed just inches over the Fingal crossbar.
In the dying minutes a bullet header by Browne from a Lorcan Fitzgerald corner fizzed into Brennan’s arms and then, in keeping with the spirit of the game, UCD raced down the other end. Excellent play from Wilson and McMahon set Corry free on the edge of the Fingal box from where the last chance of this thrilling game sailed into a Fingal midriff and wide.
UCD: Brennan; Shorthall, E McMillan, Boyle, Nangle; Mulhall, Corry, McMahon (Roche 90), Bolger; D McMillan (Wilson 76), Kilduff (Rusk 83).
Subs not used: Barron, Harding
Sporting Fingal: Quigley; O’Brien, Browne, Maher, Fitzgerald; Zayed (Crowe 60), Finn, McFaul, Kirby (Williams 83); Byrne, O’Neill.
Subs not used: Clarke, Gannon, Quinn
Extratime Man of the Match: Greg Bolger
Referee: Derek Tomney