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Roddy Collins’ Monaghan United earned a very credible 1-1 draw at Richmond Park tonight. In doing so, the Mons thwarted St Patrick’s Athletics’ chance of making it three wins from three.
The newly promoted side, who haven’t registered a league win as of yet, played admirably and had a couple of chances to nick it themselves. St Pat’s did push for a late winner but to no avail.
The game began wonderfully for Roddy’s men, with an early goal by former Bray Wanderers striker Conor Murphy after just three minutes. Murphy is one of the league’s bright sparks and he converted a Daniel McGuinness cross from the right wing.
Brendan Clarke made a mistake to concede a throw in which lead to the goal and, arguably, the Saints number one should have done better with Murphy’s effort.
St Pat’s looked to get right back in the game, with Greg Bolger booked by referee Tom Connolly for diving inside the Monaghan penalty area. It looked like the correct call from Connolly, despite the St Pat’s player’s objections.
The equaliser came for St Pat’s after just a quarter of an hour. Dean Kelly converted his second goal in three starts after his left foot shot deflected up and over former St Pat’s keeper Chris Bennion in the Monaghan goal.
The goal was a result of some good build-up play for St Pat’s, which has been a feature of their game under Liam Buckley.
Besides that the first half was still pretty even. United’s Jordan Keegan looking very bright in midfield, particularly as the Saints’ determination to play out from the back almost caught them once or twice, with Conor Murphy being gifted a chance which he hit just over.
Stephen O’Flynn was trying his best to cause some trouble for the visitors, but the home team’s backline seemed to do enough to hold off his advances.
A Dean Kelly free kick, taken just five minutes after the St Pat’s equalizer, could have put his team in front. Unfortunately for him and the men in red though, his effort clipped the top of the bar with Bennion again scrambling.
Just before the break, Kelly was controversially sent off for what looked like a high challenge on another former Saint, Stephen Maher. The teams went in level at half time, but one a man down.
The second half didn’t begin at the pace the first did, with St Pat’s reverting to 4-4-1 after the Kelly sending off and Monaghan getting on top.
Daniel McGuinness had a chance to tee up Jordan Keegan on the break for Mons not long into second period, but he opted for a cross which was too long for anyone. Chris Forrester then went close with a header but Bennion saved well.
The game then began to stretch out as St Pat’s continued to play, despite their numerical disadvantge, and Monaghan wanted to attack. Yet both teams misplaced a number of passes which could have led to a goal scoring opportunities.
St Pat’s’ Greg Bolger was one of the main offenders, electing to shoot or carry the ball when a pass may have been a better choice.
Just after the hour Monaghan had a great chance to go in front, but goalscorer Murphy couldn’t convert after Michael Isichei centred the ball from the right.
That missed chance could have proved costly, as St Pats were awarded a penalty two minutes later when subsitute Jake Kelly was fouled by Alan Byrne inside the area.
Stephen O’ Flynn stepped up but couldn’t beat Bennion in the Monaghan goal, and neither could Forrester who was following up to hit the rebound.
Another counter attack just after the penalty miss saw Conor Murphy go close, but he screwed wide from six yards out.
Saints then began to push on. John Russell hit the post after 74 minutes when a good run by Chris Forrester gave Ger O’Brien space to cross, but O’Flynn couldn’t control the ball.
The game lost some of its impetus towards the end, with both sides looking tired. Meenan and Jake Kelly, the St Pat’s substitutes, looked to create a winner but to no avail.
Tony Griffiths was next to go close. The United striker struck true but Brendan Clarke saved well down to his right from the substitute’s effort with just ten left on the clock.
Kenny Browne then had a header saved by opposition keeper Bennion after a dangerous corner from Jake Kelly.
We were into injury time when St Pat’ s mounted their final attack down the left hand side. Kelly teed up Bermingham, and his cross was met by Russell, who shot wide with his left foot from 18 yards out.
St Patrick’s Ath: Brendan Clarke; Ger O’Brien, Conor Kenna, Kenny Browne, Ian Bermingham; John Russell, James Chambers (Jake Kelly, 66), Greg Bolger; Dean Kelly (Sent Off, 40), Stephen O’ Flynn (Ian Daly 75), Chris Forrester (Darren Meenan 80)
Subs not used: Lee Brandon, Pat Flynn, Jake Carroll, Mark Rossiter.
Monaghan United: Chris Bennion; Willo Mc Donagh, Alan Byrne, Connor Mc Mahon, Jason Marks (Tony Griffiths 52); Jordan Keegan, Robert Bayly, Stephen Maher, Keith Quinn; Daniel McGuinness (Michael Isichei 62), Connor Murphy (Owen Humphreys 73).
Subs not used: Michael Schlingerman, Shane Dunne, Roddy Collins, David Crosbie.
Referee: Tom Connolly.
extratime.ie Man of the Match: Chris Bennion.