Ten men Drogheda hung on to force a replay in their Ford Cup fourth round tie with local rivals Dundalk. Dave Rogers’ fifth minute strike was cancelled out just before the break when Mark Quigley levelled from the penalty spot.
It was the perfect start for the hosts when Rogers hammered home the opener from the edge of the box after a good cross from the Drogheda left. The goal was very much a precursor of what was come to with both sides having most luck down the flanks.
The goal, coming so early, knocked Dundalk who had started brightly. The hosts quickly retook the impetus and began to stretch their neighbours. Two minutes later they could have had a second when Tiernán Mulvenna almost teed up Mark O’Brien in the Dundalk box.
Indeed, O’Brien on the Drogheda right and Gavin Brennan on the opposite wing were key to a lot of Drogheda’s forward advances. They continued to link up throughout the opening phases and more clinical finishing could have put the game beyond doubt on early on.
Dundalk took solace from this however and came into the game more as the half went on. Like Drogheda, their best work was out wide with birthday boy Daniel Kearns and Ross Gaynor causing problems for the home defence. The latter, in particular looked good and time and time again got past Stephen Quigley only for his good crosses to be squandered by either Quigley or Mark Griffin up front.
The visitors’ breakthrough finally arrived just before half-time. Unsurprisingly Gaynor was involved. He found Quigley whose perfectly weighted through ball was latched onto by Mark Griffin. He was tripped by Drogs’ Stephen Quigley just inside the box. Damien Hancock showed no hesitation issuing the red card. Mark Quigley was equally clinical from the spot.
After the restart the Lilywhites immediately went in search of the lead. Mark Quigley, who had proved a handful in the first half, seemed to operate a lot more on the left wing – a move presumably made given Brian Gannon had reverted to right back following Quigley’s dismissal.
However, Gannon would stand up well to Dundalk’s advances and the midfielder cum defender on the night finished the game as a deserving man of the match. Indeed the fact a Drogheda defender was the best player of the match sums up the second half as Dundalk ultimately failed to make their numerical advantage count.
With a half an hour to go, Ian Foster introduced Keith Ward and Jason Byrne and while the subs did give the visitors some renewed impetus, Dundalk failed to create enough goal scoring chances. Colin Hawkins went closest when his header was cleared off the line by Gavin Brennan on 72 minutes. Either side of that Ward and Greg Bolger both fired half-chances well over the bar.
Down the other end, there was little to talk about in the way of Drogs’ attacks. Lee Lynch flashed an effort wide of Peter Cherrie’s post midway through the half but it was always going to be a case of weathering the storm for the hosts after Quigley’s dismissal. The sides will meet again on Tuesday.
Drogheda United: Robert Duggan; Stephen Quigley, Dave Rogers, Alan McNally, Philip Hand; Brian Gannon, Mark O’Brien, Lee Lynch, Gavin Brennan; Tiernán Mulvenna, Dinny Corcoran (Jordan White, 81).
Subs not used: Steven Trimble, Cillian Thompson, Jack Reynolds, Robbie Gaul, Sean Challenger.
Bookings: A McNally (52).
Sent Off: S Quigley (45).
Dundalk: Peter Cherrie; Simon Madden, Colin Hawkins, Carl McHugh, Nathan Murphy; Daniel Kearns, Dean Bennett (Keith Ward, 65), Greg Bolger, Ross Gaynor; Mark Quigley, Mark Griffin (Jason Byrne, 65).
Subs not used: Johnny Breen, Cian Byrne, Philip Duffy, Craig Hanlon.
Booked: G Bolger (62), N Murphy (84).
Referee: Damien Hancock.
ExtraTime.ie Man of the Match: Brian Gannon.