St Patrick's Athletic have progressed to the first round proper of the Uefa Cup, thanks to second half goals from Jason Gavin and Mark Quigley. The Inchicore side went a goal down just after the hour mark, but a spirited and hardworking performance in the final thirty minutes means that Johnny McDonnell's side have done the League of Ireland proud.
McDonnell was expecting Elfsborg to come at his side early on in search of a goal, and centre back Jason Gavin was twice called upon in the opening minute to clear dangerous crosses. Pats followed that up with an early strike at goal from Gary Dempsey, but his effort from thirty yards sailed over the bar.
The visitors showed how dangerous they could be on the break, when after six minutes Lars Nilsson slipped between centre back and full back - only his poor first touch allowed Pats keeper Barry Ryan to come and claim the ball.
Dessie Byrne started the game at left back, as a late replacement for Dave Rogers who had presumably picked up an injury in the pre game warm up. Fifteen minutes into the contest Byrne was caught hopelessly out of position, and Pats were lucky not to pay the ultimate price of conceding.
Gary O'Neill was looking lively and he set up Keith Fahey after seventeen minutes - but the former Arsenal trainees first time shot was well off target. Midway through the half Elfsborgs Daniel Moback had to be careful when he cleared Fahey's right wing cross away from under his crossbar.
When given the room to play in, Pats were looking neat in their approach play. Mark Quigley and Fahey were combining well in particular, but an overhit Bobby Ryan pass after twenty six minutes put an end to a slick passage of play where Pats had moved the ball swiftly from defence to attack.
Fahey was to then again try his luck from range - he hit the target on this occasion, but Johan Wiland in the Elfsborg goal wasn't too troubled. Quigley then had a header, also saved.
When Elfsborg had possession Pats seemed inclined to back off them and let them play it around without being challenged. The back four were dropping deep so there was plenty of space to be exploited. Despite this Pats were coping well and limited the opposition to just a couple of chances in the first forty five minutes. On one such occasion Nilsson alluded the challenges of Damien Lynch and Gavin all too easily, but found beating Ryan an all together different task.
On the stroke of half time O'Neill did well on the right to work himself out of what looked like a dead end, and curled a teasing right footed cross into the box. Quigley got in front of his marker, but his flicked header lacked the appropriate direction.
Pats upped the tempo at the beginning of the second half, and it was a tactic that caused the opposition problems, but an opening goal was proving hard to come by. Dempsey came close after fifty five minutes when his powerful drive from thirty yards came smacking back off the crossbar.
The game was becoming a more open affair, and Elfsborg scored the crucial away goal they wanted just after the hour mark. Moback picked up possession in an old fashioned inside left position and advanced goalwards. He drifted past Lynch and then Gavin, but his subsequent right footed shot was blocked. Unfortunately for Pats the ball fell to number twenty four Stefan Ishizaki - and he beat Ryan at the near post with a smart shot from six yards.
Pats would have been two down three minutes later - but for an excellent point blank save from Ryan. Goalscorer Ishizaki skipped past Lynch on the left and pulled it back for Nilsson. Nilsson struck it powerfully and cleanly, but Ryan spread himself bravely and ensured Pats still had a chance.
Substitute Alan Kirby worked hard when introduced, but none of his efforts troubled Wiland too seriously. With just five minutes left on the clock, the Slovakian Official turned down what looked like a penalty, when an Elfsborg player appeared to handle the ball just inside the box. Pats retained possession, and from the next phase of play scored the equaliser.
Fahey floated in a corner and Gavin rose highest in the box - his header was about to cross the line when a Elfsborg player attempted to clear it - but all he succeeded in doing was smashing it into his own net.
With the tie at three all on aggregate, Pats with an away goal more, and just five minutes remaining, the hardwork was done and the Saints just needed to ensure they didn't concede. They went one better, and wrapped things up in the final minute. Quigley raced on to a through ball from substitute Derek OBrien. Miland in the Elfsborg goal raced from his line to clear it, but the pace of Quigley won out. Quigley touched it around the stranded keeper and had all the time in the world to walk the ball into the empty net.
On the night that Cork City were deducted ten points, the eircom league finally has a good news story that will hopefully grab the headlines in the weekends papers.
St Patrick's Athletic: Barry Ryan; Damien Lynch, Stephen Paisley, Jason Gavin, Des Byrne (Derek O'Brien 81); Ryan Guy, Gary Dempsey, Keith Fahey, Bobby Ryan (Alan Kirby 74); Mark Quigley, Gary O'Neill (Glen Fitzpatrick 68).
Subs not used: Lance Friesz, Noel Haverty, Jaroslaw Bialek, Byrne.
Booked: Byrne (69).
IF Elfsborg: Johan Wiland; Johan Karlsson, Teddy Lucic, Andreas Augustsson, Mathias Floren; Stefan Ishizaki (Elmin Kurbegovic 81), Daniel Moback, Anders Svensson, Emir Bajrami (James Keene 65); Lasse Nilsson, Denni Avdic (Fredrik Berglund 59).
Subs not used: Abbas Hassan, Joakim Sjohage, Mathias Floren, Daniel Nordmark.
Booked: Bajrami (22), Nilsson (52), Floren (87).
Referee: Richard Havrilla (Slovakia).