St. Patrick’s Athletic secured their third successive win in the league as they easily disposed of Drogheda United 4-0 at United Park.
The Saints took the lead in the 38th minute through former Drogheda player Lee Lynch before a 35-yard wonder strike from Chris Forrester doubled their advantage while second half goals from Conan Byrne and Forrester again completed the rout.
Drogheda United manager Robbie Horgan gave Phillip Hughes his first start of the season as both Declan O’Brien and Gary O’Neill started from the substitutes bench while Sean Hoare partnered Derek Foran at the heart of St. Pat’s defence.
Despite a lot of early possession, the visitors struggled to create any chances of note until the 21st minute when Forrester sprung the offside trap but his goal bound effort was cleared by Michael Daly.
Keith Fahey sent a free kick narrowly wide on the half hour mark as Drogheda struggled to get a foothold in the game.
The breakthrough eventually arrived during a period of intense St. Pat’s pressure as Christy Fagan advanced beyond both Drogheda center-halves and despite David Ryan saving his initial effort; the follow-up was converted by the onrushing Lynch.
Before the home side could regroup, a breathtaking strike from Forrester three minutes later made it 2-0, the talented winger hitting a volley from just inside the opposition half, catching Ryan off his line with a goal of the season contender.
The second half started in a similar pattern as the Saints dominated possession with United creating very little from an attacking perspective.
An over hit cross from Gavin Brennan was the closest Drogheda could come to pulling a goal back as St. Pat’s looked to extend their advantage on the break.
The visitors finally put the game out of sight on 70 minutes as Forrester was once again given too much room on the edge of the Drogheda box and he picked out Conan Byrne who slid the ball beyond Ryan for 3-0.
It was no surprise that Forrester had the final say in an excellent performance as the winger picked up a loose ball in the final minute and eased pass the challenges of three Drogheda defenders before rounding Ryan and firing the ball into the back of the net.
The champions have fired a warning shot with this performance as they look to have rediscovered the form of last season, as they aim to keep up with pacesetters Cork and Dundalk.
As for United, their run of defeats will be of great concern to manger Robbie Horgan ahead of the daunting visit of Shamrock Rovers to United Park this Friday.
Drogheda United Team: David Ryan; Michael Daly, Alan McNally, Ciaran McGuigan, Shane Grimes; Cathal Brady (Declan O’Brien 77), Eric Foley (Daire Doyle 31), Stephen Maher, Gavin Brennan, Carl Walshe (Gary O’Neill 56); Phillip Hughes.
Subs not used: Dylan Connolly, Paul Andrews, Paul Crowley.
Booked: Daire Doyle (57)
St. Patrick’s Athletic: Brendan Clarke; Ger O’Brien(Conor McCormack 80), Sean Hoare, Derek Foran, Ian Bermingham; Conan Byrne, Keith Fahey (Greg Bolger 73), James Chambers (Killian Brennan 65), Lee Lynch, Chris Forrester; Christy Fagan.
Subs not used: Pat Jennings, Greg Bolger, Peter Durrad, Lorcan Fitzgerald, Daryl Kavanagh, Conor McCormack.
Referee: Robert Rogers
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Chris Forrester (St. Patrick’s Athletic).