A moment of pure magic was the kick-start to a comprehensive second win of the season for Bohemians against a luckless UCD at The Belfield Bowl on Friday.
Danny Mandriou’s unstoppable screamer just before the half-hour mark got the scoring started and everyone off their feet with UCD wondering how they found themselves two down at half time.
The students started their first Premier Division game for five years sharply with Neil Farrugia, who was the standout player in Stephen Kenny’s international u-21 side recently, firing a ball into the box after a minute with Jason McClelland unlucky to pull his shot just wide.
Bohs started feeling their way into the match and on the 6th minute had the crowd convinced they had opened the scoring. Two Keith’s combined as Ward floated a ball in for Buckley who lifted his header just over the goal with the away fans cheering prematurely.
Dinny Corcoran came close just after this, taking the ball past Conor Kearns in the UCD goal, but it was cleared off the line by another of Stephen Kenny’s recent Ireland players, Liam Scales.
When football broke out in the first twenty minutes, it was last season’s First Division champions who produced the best of it. Praised for their play on the ground in 2018, UCD tried to put their mark on proceedings with captain, Gary O’Neill, spreading the ball around the park.
Collie O’Neill’s men came close to opening the scoring again in the 20th minute with great work from Daniel Tobin on the right leading to McClelland finding space in the box again, only for his shot to fly past the post.
However, once Keith Ward started to get some more space and time on the ball, things started to turn in favour of the side from Dalymount Park. Ward and Mandriou linked up frequently on the left side and it was the latter who really sparked the game into life.
With the clock just shy of 30 minutes, former Brighton u-23s player Mandriou weaved past several helpless UCD players and produced a goal of real beauty. Firing towards the top corner, Conor Kearns could do nothing as the ball hit the crossbar and nestled in the net with the whole ground admiring the moment of brilliance.
Just three minutes later, Bohs doubled their lead with Dinny Corcoran getting his second of the season in great fashion. A solid tackle from Paddy Kirk lead to a pinpoint cross that was met acrobatically by Corcoran who is starting his year with a bang.
Ward and Mandriou were at it again just before the break with the scorer of the game’s first nearly adding to his tally. A back heel from the Bohs number ten was met by Mandriou who had his shot deflected just wide off the back of Liam Scales.
Chances were few and far between at the start of the second half with Gary O’Neill’s freekick stinging the hands of Bohs keeper James Talbot five minutes after the break. It wasn’t until 15 minutes later that another chance of note was created with Conor Kearns saving well from Mandriou who did well to find space once again.
There was concern in the crowd just after this for UCD’s Kevin Coffey who stayed down for a few minutes after a heavy challenge. Coffey was treated on the pitch by medical staff and had to be helped off to be replaced by Paul Doyle.
It was Doyle who carved out the Students best chance on 76 minutes as his shot was brilliantly saved by Talbot. The ball dropped to Doyle just inside the box and the Bohs keeper did extremely well to keep his goal intact.
Talbot was on his toes again a few moments later when a cross from Mark Dignam was touched delicately towards goal by Conor Davis who had put in a good shift across the night but was to be denied here.
Andy Lyons was the perfect example of Bohs’ performance on the night when his grinding efforts to keep the ball in the corner lead to his side seeing out a second win in a row. This was the exact result the Gypsies needed as they head into the Dublin derby with fierce rivals Shamrock Rovers on Monday.
UCD: Conor Kearns; Daniel Tobin, Mark Dignam, Josh Collins, Liam Scales; Neil Farrugia, Kevin Coffey (Paul Doyle, 68), Jason McClelland, Gary O’Neill (c); Conor Davis (Yousef Mahdy 83), Timmy Molloy.
Subs not used: Gavin Sheridan (gk), Evan Farrell, Darragh Corcoran, Conor Crowley, Sean McDonald.
Booked: Gary O’Neill (62).
Bohemians: James Talbot; Andy Lyons, Rob Cornwall (Aaron Barry 83), James Finnerty, Paddy Kirk; Keith Buckley (c), Conor Levingston, Luke Wade-Slater (Ryan Swan 76), Danny Mandroiu, Keith Ward, Dinny Corcoran (Ali Reghba 81).
Subs not used: Niall Corbet (gk), Derek Pender, Scott Allardyce, Sam Byrne.
Booked: Kirk (79).
Referee: Sean Grant.
Extratime Man of the Match: Danny Mandoiu (Bohemians).