Drogheda United stretched their unbeaten streak to five in the Airtricity Premier Division with a hard-fought 0-0 draw at home to St Patrick’s Athletic. The visitors bossed possession and territory for long phases but ultimately failed to create enough in the way of goal scoring chances.
A cagey opening meant there was little to choose between the sides from the opening phases. Greg Bolger looked most threatening for the visiting side but had little time in a packed middle. Jake Kelly’s shot after three minutes went harmlessly wide of Gabriel Sava’s goal.
Pat’s grew into the game as time ticked on however and began to get a foothold, enjoying longer spells of possession. Drogheda were sloppy giving the ball away far too easily.
Pat’s winger and off-season signing John Russell tried to link up with another new recruit Christy Fagan on the edge of the Drogs’ box after 20 minutes. The former went down under a strong challenge. He protested but referee Derek Tomney wasn’t obliging. Down the other end, Drogheda offered little in the way of goal scoring chances. Time and time again Tiernan Mulvenna found himself crowded out and chasing hopeful balls, with ‘Fabio’ O’Brien operating in a deeper role.
Playing their usual 4-3-3 formation, Pat’s wide play looked the most threatening aspect to their game. On 22 minutes James Chambers, playing in the holding role, started a move with the ball eventually being worked wide to Christy Fagan. The former Bohs’ man crossed superbly but the on-rushing Chambers could only head over.
Greg Bolger mirrored Chambers’ effort only minutes later as he too headed over, albeit from a tougher angle. In between those two efforts and down the other end Derek Prendergast should have made Liam Buckley’s men pay for their wastefulness when he connected with a Sean Brennan corner. But the centre back couldn’t keep his powerful header down.
Arguably the chance of the game arrived on 28 minutes. Kenny Browne rolled a simple ball into Fagan who turned Derek Prendergast expertly. But one-on-one with Sava, the striker completely fluffed his shot. It was a warning for the hosts and a sign of Pat’s dominance but the two side trooped in level at the break.
Chris Forrester had been largely anonymous in the first half but he had the first chance of the game after the break with a dipping drive that forced Sava to go down low. Two minutes later, the teenager had another go, this time smashing a volley that went just a foot wide. Sava stood rooted to the spot.
Forrester continued to lead the attack for Liam Buckley’s men and forced a cynical foul from Brian Gannon, as he ran at goal menacingly. Tomney produced yellow but Chambers wasted the resulting free kick, firing well over.
As the half progressed, so too did the visitors’ dominance as they bossed possession and dictated play – something they have done so often this year. But in contrast to last week’s 5-1 victory, they struggled to create clear goal chances.
This was Drogheda’s poorest performance since the opening night defeat and never looked like breaking the deadlock. ‘Fabio’ O’Brien should have profited when Brendan Clarke’s poor kick out fell straight to him. He tried to pick out Sean Brennan breaking through the middle but over hit the pass. Brennan’s tackle on Kenny Browne earned the Drogheda native a yellow card. He was substituted for Mark O’Brien immediately after.
Both sides huffed and puffed ‘til the death. But surprisingly it was Drogs’ who produced the chance of the game with only four minutes left to play. Shane Grimes, deep in the Pat’s half, pulled across the box for Mulvenna whose low shot struck the inside of the post and back out. It would have been an injustice if it had gone in, but certainly punishment for the Saints’ failure to convert possession into goals.
In truth, the hosts finished in the ascendency and looked the more likely of the two sides to score. But over the 90 minutes, Pat’s should consider this two points lost. A disappointing game overall but the hosts will be glad to have avoided defeat.
Drogheda United: Gabriel Sava; Stephen Quigley, Derek Prendergast, Alan McNally, Shane Grimes; Brian Gannon, Sean Brennan (Mark O’Brien, 74), Eric Foley, Gavin Brennan; Declan O’Brien (Peter Hynes, 83) Tiarnan Mulvenna (John Breen, 90).
Subs not used: Steven Trimble, Philip Hand, Dean Marshall, Chris Kerr.
Bookings: Gannon (51), Grimes (55), Mulvenna (71), S Brennan (72).
St Patrick’s Athletic: Brendan Clarke; Ger O’Brien, Conor Kenna, Kenny Browne, Ian Bermingham; John Russell (Darren Meenan, 81), James Chambers, Greg Bolger; Chris Forrester, Christy Fagan (Ian Daly, 85), Jake Kelly (Dean Kelly, 63).
Subs not used: Barry Murphy, Jake Carroll, Pat Flynn, Mark Rossiter.
Bookings: Russell (6).
Referee: Derek Tomney.
Extratime.ie man of the match: Alan McNally (Drogheda United).