Homepage image courtesy of Colin O'Donoghue
Drogheda United and St Patrick's Athletic played out a scoreless draw at Hunky Dorys Park on Friday night, a result that hands Sligo Rovers the advantage as they prepare to face Derry City on Saturday.
Derek Prendergast was named the Airtricity man of the match, but really it should have gone to Gabriel Sava, such was the defensive effort carried out by the Boynesiders.
Christy Fagan was the danger man for the Saints. Despite playing as a lone striker he was a threat throughout but he spurned several chances and really should have converted on more than one occasion.
Their Cup exertions really looked to have taken their toll on Drogheda and from 75 minutes onwards they simply looked happy to hang in the match.
Both managers went into this game knowing that a win would leave them as the only opposition to Sligo Rovers. The Saints named an unchanged side from the one that beat Rovers 2-1 on Tuesday, while Mick Cooke drafted in Sean Brennan to replace the suspended Declan O’Brien.
Drogheda started the brighter and looked to be carrying on from where they finished off on Saturday, but Pats soon got themselves into the match and had the opening effort on 17 minutes. Greg Bolger lifted a high ball into the box and Jake Kelly beat Sava and Alan McNally to the ball but his header was just over.
Pats domination failed to produce any real return as James Chambers set up Christy Fagan but as the striker was turning inside the box Prendergast cleared. Drogheda then registered their first chance on 23 minutes, Peter Hynes, who had a nightmare start, won possession and slipped the ball through to Gavin Brennan who shot straight into Murphy’s arms.
Gavin Brennan was to threaten once again on the half-hour mark when brother Sean won a corner after hitting a dipping cross toward goal, forcing Barry Murphy to tip over. Eric Foley played in the set-piece and the ball broke to Brennan who hit it at goal but a Pats defender threw his body in the way to clear the danger.
The visitors finished the half stronger with Jake Kelly crossing to the back post only for Christy Fagan to stab wide. But while the first half was a back and forth affair, the visitors dominated proceedings after the break.
The best chance of the second half came on the hour mark as Pats broke from a Drogheda attack. An incisive ball through the middle picked out the unmarked Chambers. However, Alan McNally had gotten back and he blocked the former Drogheda midfielder’s effort. The ball then broke to Fagan and he was charged down by at least four players before Greg Bolger eventually put the ball wide.
Late on Pats had chances but second half sub Vinny Faherty twice skied shots and Fagan shot straight into the hands of Sava. The keeper made two great saves in the second half, the first on 69 minutes when Bolger slid a low shot at goal but the shot stopper got down to block the ball and McNally was back to clear, then on 89 minutes Bolger played through Forrester and his low shot was blocked by the feet of Sava.
Drogheda United: Gabriel Sava; Brian Gannon, Alan McNally, Derek Prendergast, Philip Hand; Sean Brennan (Cathal Brady 71), Ryan Brennan, Paul Crowley, Eric Foley, Gavin Brennan; Peter Hynes (Tiarnan Mulvenna 90).
Subs Not Used: Michael Schlingermann, Stephen Quigley, John Sullivan, Jason Marks, Alan Byrne
Booked: Foley (49), R Brennan (80).
St Pats: Barry Murphy; Ger O’Brien, Pat Flynn, Conor Kenna (Kenny Browne 46), Ian Bermingham; Sean O’Connor, Greg Bolger, James Chambers, Jake Carroll, Jake Kelly (Chris Forrester 61); Christy Fagan (Vinny Faherty 81)
Subs Not Used: Brendan Clarke, Aidan Price, Ryan Coombes, Anthony Flood
Booked: Forrester (90+1).
Referee: Padraigh Sutton.
Extratime Man of the Match: Gabriel Sava (Drogheda United).
P.J. generally covers Drogheda games at HD Park and can generally be found at any Dublin ground when of a loose end on a Friday night.