Date: 7:45 p.m. Aug. 6, 2010
Venue: Oriel Park
To say that this game started poorly would be an understatement. For the majority of the opening forty five minutes it was a disjointed and confusing affair. Passes were misplaced and the player’s intentions were at times hard to interpret.
For Dundalk who started the game with a host of new signings in their starting eleven this was understandable and it was early in the game that they lost the initiative. Somewhat harder to fathom was UCD’s seeming reluctance to take it themselves.
Perhaps it was the early injury to Paul Corry that knocked the students out of their stride. He went up for a high ball with Dean Bennett in the fourth minute and came down clutching his eye and in obvious distress.
Graham Rusk replaced him but the visitors stuck with their 4-5-1 formation and didn’t produce a moment of danger until the 20th minute when Kilduff was gifted an opening thanks to stereo dithering by Bennett and Wayne Hatswell. KIlduff, in keeping with the spirit of things, blew his effort high over the bar.
Mathew Tipton could have had the home side ahead at that point. In the eleventh minute he rose to meet a cross from Kudozovic out on the right and sent the ball arching over Ger Barron only to land squarely on the crossbar and bounce away to safety.
It wasn’t until the half hour mark that a game that had been cursed by bad passing and poor decision making on the part of the players took a step towards the light. Greg Bolger set Dwayne Wilson away down the right flank. He skinned Shaun Kelly and sent in a cross that fell just inches in front of Ciaran Kilduff who had surged in towards the near post to meet it.
Perhaps it was an omen. Sixty seconds later the students were in front. Chris Mulhall picked the ball up inside the Dundalk box and shimmied past Simon Madden. He then hooked a cross cum shot into the area which seemed relatively harmless until it deflected off Ciaran McGuigan and rolled into the net beyond the reach of Peter Cherrie.
If it was a scrappy goal then it was in keeping with the rest of the game but as half time approached the home side found some fluency. Daniel Kearns, recently of West Ham, came more into the game, Tipton began to look dangerous and the shed found it’s voice.
On 38 minutes Kearns ran at the visitor’s defence with newly minted confidence, Andy Boyle executing a crucial block. Then on 44 minutes a Madden free was headed out to Tom Miller whose volley whistled past Barron’s left hand post. Then, with three minutes of added time played, Tipton picked up a ball on the edge of the six yard box, turned and fired past Ger Barron to give the home side an equaliser just seconds before the half time whistle.
Dundalk carried this momentum into the second half, immediately causing problems on the flanks where Kearns, now on the left, and Madden caused havoc in a stretched UCD defence.
Chances fell for Tipton, who flashed his right foot through fresh air as Simon Madden’s cross slipped past, and Kearns who benefitted from Tipton’s approach play moments later but couldn’t connect cleanly when well placed.
Kudozovic tried his luck from distance on 57 minutes and forced Barron into a scrambling save at the foot of his near post and Evan McMillan made an athletic intervention to stop a Kearns cross causing more damage.
Twenty minutes into the half and it was still the home side making all the moves. A Shot from twenty five yards by full back Shaun Kelly was sailing towards the top corner of the net until the arching form of Ger Barron tipped it away for a corner. Stephen Roche came on for Wison as UCD attempted to stem the tide and a period of stability followed.
Indeed Mulhall almost fashioned an unlikely winner for the visitors when he twisted and turned in the box before sliding a ball to Roche whose effort was nudged narrowly wide by a Dundalk boot.
But the final minutes belonged to Dundalk. Roared on by the passionate crowd Tipton dummied on the edge of the box for the player behind him, a move that might have provided a winner if there had been a player behind him.
Kudozovic then drove a low cross through the crowded goalmouth only for it to emerge on the far side untroubled by a Dundalk touch and finally in the 86th minute a Stephen McDonnell shot from distance flew inches wide.
The game ended one a piece and while this result will please neither manager, the fans will be pleased that what promised to be an unsatisfying affair turned into a thrilling contest.
Dundalk: Peter Cherrie; Simon Madden, Wayne Hatswell, Tom Miller, Ciaran McGuigan; Shaun Kelly, Dean Bennett, Daniel Kearns (Ross Gaynor, 82), Stephen McDonnell; Mathew Tipton, Fahrudin Kudozovic (Johnny Breen, 85).
?Subs not used: Paul Murphy, Liam Burns, Tiernan Mulvenna.
Bookings: Shaun Kelly (51), Kudozovic (75).
UCD: Ger Barron; Paul O’Conor, Evan McMillan, Andy Boyle, Ciaran Nangle; Dwayne Wilson (Stephen Roche, 67), Greg Bolger, Paul Corry (Graham Rusk, 4), Chris Mulhall, Robbie Creevy; Ciaran Kilduff.
?Subs not used: Billy Brennan, Gareth Mathews, Michael Leahy.
Bookings: Mulhall (21), Barron (66).
extratime.ie Man of the Match: Daniel Kearns.