Stuart Byrne 80' -
Three points will somewhat ease the pressure on former Irish international Kenna as Pats move into a more secure mid table position, still far below what was expected of the Inchicore side.
With six former Drogs in his side it was inevitable that one of them would come back to haunt their old club and it was Stuart Byrne who, on 80 minutes, popped up at the back post to poke Mark Quigley’s parried shot home.
Drogheda had the lion’s share of possession but failed to make it count as their attack remains somewhat impotent. Alan Mathews side have failed to win in seven games and have only scored three goals in two games during that run.
The writing was on the wall early on at the Stadium of Light as Pats registered their first chance after only three minutes, Ryan Guy bursting down the right and crossing to the unmarked Gareth O’Connor where the midfielders shot was saved by legs of Steve Williams.
In what was an end to end game Drogheda’s first chance came moments later as James Chambers in a very advanced position rolled the ball to Eric McGill on the edge of the area however the subsequent shot just rose too high and sailed over the bar.
Scott Gibb struggled to contain Pats playmaker Ryan Guy as Jeff Kenna’s side looked to unleash Guy with their well worked play early on. A freekick won on the edge of the Pats box provided Chambers with a great opportunity to score as he curled his shot round the wall an unsighted Gary Rogers was left rooted to the ground however the ball failed to swing inside the post and just grazed past the wrong side.
A scramble in the Pats area on 27 minutes was almost converted as Chambers and Ross Gaynor both had efforts closed down, but the Dubliners regained possession and broke immediately as Ryan Guy fed Fitzpatrick on the left side of the Drogheda box and the sub with time and space passed right into the relieved arms of Williams.
In a period of Pats domination Drogheda were caught cold as Alan Cawley took a quick freekick just inside the Drogheda half and he played in Fitzpatrick who raced to the byline and sent the ball in low and in front of an empty Drogheda goal where Alan McNally managed to get across first and clear the ball to Williams who hacked it away.
Pats may have had Ryan Guy, but Drogheda had Brendan McGill and the midfielder dominated the right wing in the second half. On 51 minutes McGill was the creator for Drogheda’s best opportunity as he broke down the right and sent in a perfect cross to Brian King who was unmarked at the far post but his header smacked off the cross bar and rebounded to Ross Gaynor whose follow up shot was blocked on the line by a wall of Pats defenders.
King would have perhaps been served better by attempting to rise above the ball and head downwards.
A visibly tiring Pats were gifted a chance when Connor Kenna slipped while back tracking allowing Byrne attempt a pass to Brendan Clarke who would have been through, however he gave the ball to Drogheda’s last man Robbie Clarke. Drogheda were further let off the hook as Byrne had failed to spot the incisive run of O’Connor on the wing.
Williams was called into action with just under 20 minutes remaining as Guy made a cross field run and let fly on the edge of the area, his shot received a vicious deflection but the Drogheda shot stopper got down to deflect the shot wide.
Despite dominating the last 15 minutes Drogheda never looked clinical and were punished as a result. The introduction of Guy Bates and Robbie Farrell on 86 minutes failed to make any difference. With crunch games coming up for both sides this Friday Kenna and Mathews will have to take a good look at the performances of their respective sides as neither team looked anywhere near convincing.
St Patrick's Athletic: Gary Rogers; Darragh Ryan, Damian Lynch, Jason Gavin, David Partridge; Stuart Byrne, Gareth O'Connor ( Bobby Ryan 67 mins), Alan Cawley, Ryan Guy; Mark Quigley, 23 Declan O'Brien (Glen Fitzpatrick 16 mins). Unused subs: Brendan Clarke, Gary Dempsey, Stephen Maher.
Drogheda United: Steve Williams; Scott Gibb, Robbie Clarke, Conor Kenna, Alan McNally; Eric McGill, Brendan McGill, James Chambers, Brian King (Robbie Farrell 86 mins); Robbie Martin (12 Guy Bates 86 mins), Ross Gaynor. Unused subs: Paul Skinner, William Woods, Ian Ryan.
Extratime MoTM: James Chambers – The Drogheda midfielder bossed the centre of the park and didn’t stop running.