Incident-packed doesn’t even begin to describe Drogheda United’s 2-2 draw at home to a nine-man Limerick on Friday night. If that wasn'tenough, there was a mini-fire in the press area as a laptop charger lit up before the game.
Four goals, four penalties and three red cards punctuated a dramatic 90 minutes at Hunky Dorys Park.
It was evident after the opening exchanges that both sides were equally matched and it was going to take something special to separate the sides and on nine minutes the first of four penalties was awarded.
Stephen Folan slipped in the Lims box and allowed David Cassidy in and the midfielder took full advantage as he shot toward goal only for his effort to be blocked by Joe Gamble who slid across but his arm ultimately preventing the effort on goal .Declan O’Brien stepped up and in trademark fashion put the ball right down the middle of the goal.
Stuart Taylor almost saw an immediate response from his side, Belgian Alex Bossekota, who looked a real livewire from the offing, was played through only to hit a tame effort which Sava was more than equal to.
Shane Grimes started at centre back for the home side and he looked to have the job of man-marking Bossekota, but the Belgian constantly tried to play off Grimes’ much slower partner Alan Byrne.
The game settled later in the half as neither side really held the upper hand, but on the stroke of half-time The Blues were level. Shane Tracy broke on the right and whipped in an inviting ball which was met with gusto by debutant Aaron Brown and he powered past Sava.
It was a memorable debut for the former Floriana FC player as just after the break he saw red. Robbie Williams appeared to have dragged down Declan O’Brien and Brown took exception to the awarding of the penalty and was duly dismissed. ‘Fabio’ placed the ball and hammered a low shot but right down the middle and Barry Ryan didn’t have to move to prevent the goal.
Lims manager, Stuart Taylor, had been vocal throughout the game and his passion got the better of him and after a heated, albeit, one-sided exchange, Graham Kelly brandished his second red card and dismissed the manager.
This seemed to spur the visitors on and they hit the front, rather aptly, from the penalty spot. Danny Galbraith benefitted from some loose Drogheda play and he drifted into the Drogs box before being taken down by Michael Daly. Shane Tracy stepped up to place his shot low and well out of Sava’s reach.
From then on it seemed like Limerick would take all three points as Drogheda failed to make their numerical advantage count, but when Bossekota and David Cassidy clashed on 76 minutes Limerick were down to nine. The Belgian appeared to make a forward motion to the Drogheda midfielder when they clashed and Cassidy went down holding his face, but it must be said that there was no contact and The Blues can feel harshly done by.
However, this seemed to finally wake Drogheda and they threw everything forward in search of a leveller. Gaving Brennan had cut into the box from the right wing before being bundled over by Joe Gamble and the former Cork player conceded his second penalty of the night. Showing great character, O’Brien stepped up for a third time and put the ball right down the middle again to secure a point for the Boynesiders.
Drogheda United are celebrating 50 years as part of the League of Ireland and there is unlikely to be a crazier game in their history. Stuart Taylor can be somewhat pleased by the performance his side put in, the newly promoted team looked more like an established Premier Division outfit. Their off the ball work rate is tremendous and Drogheda never really threatened and had they not have been awarded the penalties then it was hard to see where a goal would come from.
Drogheda United: Gabriel Sava; Brian Gannon, Shane Grimes, Alan Byrne, Michael Daly (Peter Hynes 64); Ryan Brennan, David Cassidy (Graham Rusk 88), Paul O’Conor (Eric Foley 64), Gavin Brennan; Declan O’Brien.
Subs not used: Michael Schlingermann, Stephen Quigley, Dean Gaynor, Jason Marks.
Bookings: Brian Gannon, Alan Byrne, Gabriel Sava
Limerick FC: Barry Ryan; Patrick Nzuzi, Aaron Brown, Steve Folan, Robbie Williams; Shane Tracy, Joe Gamble, Dave O’Leary, Danny Galbraith (Steve McGann 79); Craig Curran, Alex Bossekota
Subs not used: Shane Cusack, Jonathan Tiffoney, Shane Costello, Barry Sheedy, Darragh Rainsford, Brian O’Callaghan
Bookings: Joe Gamble
Sent Off: Aaron Brown, Alex Bossekota, Stuart Taylor.
Referee: Graham Kelly.
Extratime Man of the Match: Gavin Brennan (Drogheda United).