Drogheda United recorded their biggest win of the season as they defeated struggling UCD 4-0 in Damien Richardson’s first game in charge.
An early strike from Gavin Brennan was a sign of things to come as a second half double from Gary O’Neill and a calm finish from Cathal Brady sealed back to back wins for the hosts.
Richardson named an unchanged side from the one that defeated Shamrock Rovers last week while UCD boss Aaron Callaghan made four enforced changes from Sunday’s 6-1 drubbing by Derry City with Niall Corbet, Ian Ryan, Samir Belhout and Robbie Creevy all starting.
The home side hit the front after only seven minutes as Cathal Brady dispossessed Sean Coyne on the edge of the box before pulling the ball back for Brennan who fired a low drive under the body of Corbet.
United almost doubled their lead seconds later when a foul on Brady presented the in-form Gavan Holohan with a free kick twenty yards out but Corbet was equal to his effort.
UCD struggled to gain a foothold throughout the first half as Drogheda continued to create and squander chances. Carl Walshe worked a yard of space on the left but his cross was missed by O’Neill when it seemed easier to score.
O’Neill was involved again as he teed up Brennan on the stroke of half time but the midfielder sent his strike narrowly wide of the far post.
A speculative free kick from Belhout was the only effort the Students had on target in the first half and it was a similar story in the second period as Drogheda further strengthened their grip on the game. An under hit backpass from Ian Ryan on 56 minutes was pounced on by O’Neill who rounded Corbet before firing high into the empty net for 2-0.
The hosts were out of sight two minutes later as Brennan found Holohan in acres of space in the centre-circle and the midfielder delivered an inch-perfect, defence splitting pass to put Brady through on goal and he slotted the ball in at the near post.
A disastrous ten minutes for UCD was compounded on 66 as Brady, who had the beating of Coyne all game, crossed for O’Neill and the striker headed home for his fifth league goal of the season.
Drogheda introduced new signings Garreth Brady and Peter McGlynn in the latter stages of the game as they missed further chances to extend their lead; both McGlynn and Holohan firing wide from good positions.
The result marks a dream debut for Richardson as his side will face league leaders Dundalk in a tantalising Louth derby next week while UCD will look to stop the rot when they host Bohemians.
Drogheda United: Micheál Schlingermann; Daire Doyle, Ciaran McGuigan, Alan McNally, Shane Grimes; Cathal Brady (Garreth Brady 83), Michael Daly, Gavan Holohan, Carl Walshe (Peter McGlynn 67); Gavin Brennan; Gary O’Neill (Declan O’Brien 75).
Subs not used: Dylan Connolly, Roy Kierans, Sean O’Connor, Ciaran O’Connor.
Booked: Holohan (11), McGuigan (50).
UCD: Niall Corbet; Gareth Matthews, Ian Ryan, James Kavanagh; Sean Coyne:, Ayman Ben-Mohamad, Robert Benson, Samir Belhout (Chris Mulhall 70) Timmy Molloy (Gregory Sloggert 57) Robbie Creevy (Gary Burke 70); Conor Cannon.
Subs not used: Daniel Tobin, Adam Harney, Kaleem Simon, Thomas O’Halloran.
Booked: Belhout (57)
Referee: Derek Tomney
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Cathal Brady (Drogheda United)