An Anto Flood goal two minutes into added time at the end of the first half proved enough for St Patrick’s Athletic to claim full points against UCD at Belfield on Friday night.
It was a largely uninspiring opening half in which St Pats had most of the possession and created the bulk of the chances, but for most of the opening forty-five minutes they failed to press home their advantage.
Pats did have the ball in the net after 21 minutes when Anto Flood stretched to knock in a John Russell cross which had been floated to the back post, but the striker had used his hand and was duly booked after the goal had been disallowed.
Apart from this there were few moments of genuine danger but, with 35 minutes played, Killian Brennan delivered an excellent free kick into the UCD box where an unattended Kenny Browne headed over from ten yards.
For UCD the damage began on 39 minutes when midfielder James Kavanagh was booked for a ‘man and ball’ challenge on John Russell and four minutes later he was on his way to the dressing-rooms having fouled Russell again, this time in the centre circle as the Pats player threatened to break, and incurred a second yellow card.
The consequences of being a man down became apparent two minutes into added time at the end of the half. Conan Byrne weaved in from the right and laid a perfect ball into the path of Anto Flood who side-footed home with a minimum of fuss.
Pats started the second half at the kind of tempo that suggested they fully intended to take advantage of the extra man and John Russell forced a reaction save from McGinley after 48 minutes. Bermingham then almost scored with a cross cum shot one minute later, and a minute after that Killian Brennan pinged a shot off the UCD bar having been set up by Conan Byrne.
UCD’s strategy of leaving just three at the back looked ill-advised as Pats surged forwards, seemingly at will, but as the half wore on the visitors lost their impetus and UCD worked their way back into the game. The gaps in the UCD defence started to close and they began to find time and space in midfield.
Perhaps Pats recognised the danger in this more balanced state of affairs and with twenty minutes left to play they forced a succession of corners, during which period Jake Carroll forced Mark McGinley to tip his ‘shot on the turn’ over the UCD crossbar.
With fifteen minutes remaining Liam Buckley sent Christy Fagan and Jordan Keegan into the fray in an attempt to help re-ignite his side’s dominance but time and again the off-side flag punctured the visitor’s momentum.
With four minutes remaining Brennan almost made the game safe for Pats but McGinley did well to palm away his stinging shot from just outside the box. In the end, Pats didn’t need a second goal to take the points but UCD’s resolute showing with only ten men will leave them to wonder, yet again, what might have been.
UCD: Mark McGinley; Gareth Matthews (Hugh Douglas 84), David O’Connor, Tomas Boyle, Mark Langtry (Craig Walsh 46); Dean Clarke (Robbie Benson 84), Robbie Creevy, Gary Burke, James Kavanagh, Sean Russell; David McMillan.
Subs not used: Ger Barron, Barry McCabe, Samir Belhout, Dinny Corcoran.
Booked: Kavanagh (39).
Sent Off: Kavanagh (43)
St Patrick’s Ath: Brendan Clarke; Ger O’Brien, Kenny Browne, Jake Carroll, Ian Bermingham; Conan Byrne (Jordan Keegan 75), John Russell, Greg Bolger, Killian Brennan, Chris Forrester; Anto Flood (Christy Fagan 75).
Subs not used: Dave Ryan, Sean Gannon, Conor Kenna, Jake Kelly, Conor Murphy.
Booked: Flood (21).
Referee: Tom Connolly.
Extratime Man of the Match: John Russell (St Patrick’s Ath).