St. Patrick's Athletic 0 - 1 Cliftonville (Cliftonville win 2-0 on agg)Mon, Feb 20 2012
Cliftonville progressed to the quarter-finals of the 2012 Setanta Sports Cup after a 1-0 victory over 10 man Saint Patrick’s Athletic in Inchicore on Monday night, 2-0 on aggregate.
On a bitterly cold night in Dublin, St. Pats failed to show the composure required to beat Cliftonville’s Ryan Browne and once Joe Gormley’s 69th minute strike from close range found the back of the net, the Irish League side never looked like relinquishing their lead.
Returning to Richmond Park for his first competitive game in charge in what is his second spell at the helm of the Saints, Liam Buckley chose to make six changes to the side that had lost 1-0 to Cliftonville seven days earlier, with Barry Murphy, Pat Flynn, Greg Bolger, John Russell and Jake Kelly all coming in for their first team debuts.
The mass changes appeared however to cause little disruption to the Saints in the opening stages of this contest as the expectant home crowd saw the new brand of play that Buckley is trying to introduce in Inchicore. It took the Saints five minutes to get their first sight of goal, Ryan Brown saving a Christy Fagan header, although the effort was deemed to have been offside.
The Saints went close again to breaking the deadlock following a counter attack from a Cliftonville corner. Christy Fagan led a quick break forward, and after reaching the endline, his square ball across the six yard box was just too far in front of the onrushing Seán O’Connor to finish what would have been a great goal.
The Saints continued to pressurise the away side and were inches away from the lead after John Russell’s strike struck the left hand post of Browne in the Cliftonville goal. After good link-up play with Greg Bolger on the edge of the box, Russell’s curling effort struck the woodwork and bounced clear of the goal serving to only add to their frustrations.
The Belfast side managed their first effort on goal on 29 minutes due to some poor play from the home side. Kenny Browne was caught in possession by Diarmuid O’Carroll, however the former Glasgow Celtic man could only shoot straight at Saints’ keeper Barry Murphy.
The home side again were left to rue their lack of composure in front of goal on 36 minutes. Some good possession and link-up play between Bolger and the busy Russell, led to the former Sligo midfielder playing in Fagan, but the ex-Bohemians striker could only shoot straight at Cliftonville keeper Browne as the half ended 0-0.
The second half saw a determined away side come out as they outlined their intentions to attack the home side with greater numbers going forward. Liam Boyce was first to go close on 47 minutes as he flashed a 25 yard shot just wide of Barry Murphy’s right hand post, while Joe Gormley should have done better when he headed over from a good Cliftonville set-piece.
The Saints came close themselves from a set-piece as Kenny Browne rose highest to head John Russell’s corner from the right, but he couldn’t find the target from just outside the six yard box. However the tie decisively swung in Cliftonville’s favour in the space of four second half minutes as the Saints were reduced to ten men on 65 minutes when Russell was shown a straight red by referee Richie Winter for a lunge on Cliftonville’s Ryan Catney.
Buoyed by their man advantage, Cliftonville went a goal in front on 70 minutes. A dangerous inswinging free by skipper George McMullen found the head of Emmet Templeton, and though his strike struck the Saints’ crossbar, Joe Gormley was quickest to reach the loose ball and score from close range to give Cliftonville a crucial away goal to the delight of the travelling supporters.
Indeed it was the away supporters who seemed more likely to be cheering further as Tommy Breslin’s side looked the more likely side to score again as Catney saw his effort from just inside the penalty area cleared of the line by Saints’ skipper Ger O’Brien on 73 minutes.
The Saints pressed for a late equaliser on the night, but try as they may, they could not get past a resolute Cliftonville defence and instead it is The Reds who advance to the next stages of the Setanta Sports Cup where it was announced in the post match draw that they will face League of Ireland champions Shamrock Rovers.
Saint Pats: Barry Murphy; Ger O’Brien (c), Pat Flynn, Kenny Browne, Ian Bermingham; Seán O’Connor, Greg Bolger, James Chambers (Mark Rossiter 89), John Russell, Jake Kelly (Stephen O’Flynn 67); Christy Fagan (Ian Daly 80).
Subs Not Used: Brendan Clarke, Conor Kenna, Jake Carroll, Darren Meenan.
Cliftonville: Ryan Browne; Ronan Scannell; Dermot McVeigh, Ciaran Caldwell, Eamonn Seydak, Liam Boyce, Ryan Catney, George McMullen (c), Emmet Templeton (Stephen Garrett 81); Joe Gormley (Chris Scannell 81), Diarmuid O’Carroll (Martin Donnelly 85).
Subs Not Used: John Connolly, Barry Johnston, Aaron Smyth, Mark Clarke.
Referee: Richie Winter
Extratime Man of the Match: Joe Gormley