Bohemians and St Patrick's Athletic played out a hard fought 150th league clash on Friday night in Dalymount Park – a result which saw more bookings than goals and put a severe dent into both side’s chances of winning the Airtricity League title.
Bohemians had the better of what was a scrappy first half in torrential rain for the most part, as both sides struggled to put more than a handful of passes together and create any patterns of play.
The Gypsies however had a fantastic chance to open the scoring on just four minutes through Liam Burns’ close range shot. After a scramble in the box in which Pats failed to clear the danger from Ryan McEvoy’s corner, Burns’ well struck close range effort was spectacularly tipped onto the crossbar by Saints’ keeper Gary Rogers.
Pats soon created their first chances of the game through the always sharp Daryl Kavanagh. The former Waterford United man first saw his 30 yard shot go straight at home keeper Barry Murphy, before on nine minutes, seeing the Bohs’ shotstopper again deny him by getting a hand to his 25 yard shot and tipping it around the post for a corner.
Just three minutes later though, Bohs’ thought they had taken the lead. Killian Brennan’s free from the right forced Gary Rogers into getting down low and tipping the ball away. Anto Flood was the quickest to react to the loose ball as he pounced to find the net. However before being able to turn away and celebrate, the assistant referee’s flag disallowed the effort for offside.
The Gypsies’ frustration with the decision making of referee Richie Winter and his fellow officials soon became apparent as he booked three home players in the next 10 minutes – Anto Flood, Killian Brennan and Robert Bayly all seeing yellow, Brennan’s and Bayly’s bookings being harsh calls on the two midfielders.
It was Brennan who next went close to scoring the opening goal, his long range effort off the back of a poor clearance from Pats going straight at Rogers. Bohemians again went close from long range on 34 minutes, Ryan McEvoy seeing his well struck shot from outside the penalty area just rising too high with Rogers looking on at the strike in the Saints’ net.
Another Ryan McEvoy corner caused problems for the Saints’ defence as Liam Burns flicked the ball across goal only for no one to be on hand to finish. Similarly, in the final minutes of the half, a Daryl Kavanagh break into the box ended with the forward pulling the ball across the box for a teammate, but again, no Pats’ man was on hand to finish the chance created.
The Saints’ created the first chance of the second half as they looked to break the deadlock, Stephen Bradley shooting over from 25 yards after some good interplay from Shane McFaul.
Pats continued to press for the opener and on 66 minutes, the Inchicore side were again only denied by the fantastic reactions of Barry Murphy in the Bohemians’ goal. From a free on the right around 30 yards out, Seán O’Connor’s strike was destined for the top corner of the net only for Murphy to get across his line and tip the ball wide.
However despite the game’s great importance to both sides, very little quality play in the final third was created in the final 25 minutes. Pats’ failure to really click in front of goal was proven as top scorers Danny North and Daryl Kavanagh were withdrawn for Ian Daly and Dave McMillan, while Flood was often left isolated up front for the Gypsies.
Bohs tried to break the deadlock once more in the 83rd minute, Chris Forrester proved to be the creator as he cut inside Derek Pender on the right, but his pull back to Anto ‘Bisto’ Flood was disappointingly scuffed weakly into the waiting arms of Saints’ keeper Gary Rogers.
The Saints’ however nearly stole the points with just four minutes. A great Seán O’Connor run saw him get by Ger O’Brien, and his deflected cross off the Bohs defender skimmed the home side’s crossbar with goalkeeper Barry Murphy beaten.
Anto Murphy’s long throw into the Bohemians box just moment later nearly found the waiting Dave McMillan, but Bohs’ managed to clear the danger. Bohs had one final chance themselves, but Anto Flood failed to get a header on goal from a left wing cross.
Pats tried in vain to pump the ball into the Bohemians box one last time in an attempt to grab a late winner, but it was all in vain. The game ended scoreless with both sides leaving the field knowing that the two points dropped makes claiming the league title that little bit tougher.
Bohemians: Brian Murphy; Ger O'Brien, Liam Burns (c), Aidan Price, Ollie Cahill; Keith Buckley (Aidan Downes 60), Christopher Forrester (Stephen Traynor 90+2), Robert Bayly (Stephen Hurley 72), Killian Brennan; Anto Flood.
Subs Not Used: Craig Sexton (GK), Christy Fagan, Roberto Lopez, Kevin Feely.
Bookings: Anto Flood, Killian Brennan, Robert Bayly, Liam Burns, Stephen Hurley.
St Pats: Gary Rogers; Derek Pender, Evan McMillan, Conor Kenna (c), Brian Shortall; Seán O'Connor, Stephen Bradley, Shane McFaul, Derek Doyle (Anto Murphy 86); Daryl Kavanagh (David McMillan 80), Danny North (Ian Daly 62).
Bookings: Brian Shortall.
Subs: Chris Bennion, Ian Bermingham, Paul Crowley, John O'Connor.
Referee: Richie Winter
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Gary Rogers - in the toughest of conditions for a keeper, the Meath man was flawless.