St Patrick's Athletic maintained their winning start to the season against Leinster Senior League side Phoenix FC at Richmond Park on Monday night, comfortably overcoming the visitors and confidently beginning their defence of the Leinster Senior Cup. With many of the peripheral members of the Pat's squad getting a run out, it was Chris Forrester who stole the show for the hosts, netting a brace in a 4-0 victory.
The first chance of note arrived in the third minute and also bore the game's opening goal. Pat's frontman Christy Fagan won a corner off opposing left back Aidan O'Sullivan, and it was Fagan who pounced to finish after Tadhg Murphy had failed to hold Kevin Farragher's header. A series of half chances followed for the Saints before Phoenix crafted an effort of their own in the 13th minute, former Drogheda United and Bray Wanderers midfielder Gavin Whelan glanced narrowly over from a John Brophy-won corner. It was a sign of things to come for the remainder of the half as the sides traded blows.
Pat's midfielder Ian Daly was next to try his luck, his effort from distance stinging the hands of the Murphy. Murphy was called into action again minutes later, producing a fine save from Chris Forrester to keep the game at 1-0. His opposite number and namesake was to be at full stretch only minutes later, Barry Murphy tipping over after Aidan O'Sullivan's fine strike from the edge of the area.
The visitors had another chance to draw level moments later, lone striker John Brophy's header releasing midfielder Derek Swan who was upended by Carroll, the fullback earning the game's first yellow card in the process. Swan himself took the resulting free, though his strike failed to threaten the Pat's goal.
The Saints doubled their lead in the 43rd minute, Forrester capitalising on an error by the otherwise impressive Victor Ekenum to finish off the post from a tight angle. There was almost time for Forrester to grab his second and his side's third before the break, Tadgh Murphy getting down well to turn his strike around the post.
Pat's began the second as they finished the first, producing the half's opening effort on 51 minutes, Pat Flynn, Forrester and Fagan linking up well before the latter shot straight at the keeper. The gulf in class began to show, Phoenix succumbing to the superiority of the hosts and struggling to craft chances amid long period of Pat's possession. John Brophy continued to look their most potent threat but he found himself outnumbered, Pat's centre halves Flynn and Farragher dealing well with the long balls to which Phoenix resorted.
Hesitance from Barry Murphy as he came to claim a Derek Swan free almost granted Phoenix a way back into the match but no one was on hand to turn it goalwards. Phoenix substitute Brian Kelly denied Fagan a sure goal on 62 minutes, making a crucial sliding challenge as the forward was about to strike from close range.
Victory was assured in the 70th minute. Ian Daly found himself one on one with Tadgh Murphy after a neat exchange with Flynn, and kept his cool to place the ball beyond the reach of Murphy. However, there was no letting off from the home side, Forrester's header from Darren Meenan's cross soon after the restart had the keeper, but not the woodwork, beaten. Forrester did, however, snatch a second 12 minutes from the end. Jake Carroll found the midfielder on the edge of the box, and with no Phoenix defender in the vicinity, he unleashed sweet, looping effort that evaded the dive of Murphy.
On the rare occasion that Phoenix did stray into the opposition half towards the end, they forced only routine saves from Barry Murphy or failed to test the Pat's rearguard at all. The game petered out, Phoenix lacking in confidence and looking lacklustre as the game drew to a close. 4-0 it finished, Pat's will now look to Friday's home tie against Monaghan United who should prove a sterner test.
St Pat's: Barry Murphy; Eoin Hyland, Pat Flynn, Kevin Farragher, Jake Carroll; Mark Rossiter, Chris Forrester, Ian Daly, Jake Kelly; Christy Fagan, Darren Meenan.
Subs Not Used: Brendan Clarke, Alex Prizeman, Adam O’Connor, Jamie McGlynn, Kevin Dempsey, Rob Cornwall, Ismahil Akinade.
Bookings: Jake Carroll (35).
Phoenix FC: Tadgh Murphy; Dave Phillips, Victor Ekanem, Ray Kearns, Aidan O'Sullivan (Brian Kelly, 40); Sean Gleeson (Keith Dawson, 68), Keith Kennedy, Derek Swan (Glen Wade, 79), Gavin Whelan, Gareth Cooney; John Brophy.
Subs Not Used: Liam Heffernan, Alan Garrett, Ben Dale, Darren Sargent.
Referee: Rob Clarke.
Attendance: 300 (estimate).
Man of the Match: Chris Forrester - the 19 year old staked his claim for a first team slot and was at the centre of much that was good about the Pat's performance.