David Wilson reports from United Park
The home fans left disappointed as Cabinteely ran out 1-0 winners over Drogheda United in their EA Sports Cup first round clash on a bitterly cold night under the United Park floodlight
Luke Clucas scored the only goal of the game from the penalty spot midway through the second half as Cabo made it two wins from two on the road following Friday's comeback win over Shelbourne in the league.
Both sides rang the changes after each playing in the league last Friday, but it was the Boynesiders who started the brighter, keeping possession and looking to probe down both wings through Jay Amour and Jordan Adeyemo.
However, chances were few and far between in the opening 20 minutes.
Mark Hughes provided expansive cross-field balls for both full-backs Conor Kane on the left, and James Browne on the right, and the quick switching of play was obvious means for the Drogs to penetrate forward.
Hughes swept a long raking pass out towards Browne midway through the half and Browne took a good first touch before driving into the box and pulling the ball back to Amour, who lashed over.
After spending the first 20 minutes on the back foot, Cabo began to grow into the game and their high press led to Shane Barnes winning the ball.
Barnes combined with Luke Clucas and Nika Kalandarishvilli before Kalandarishvilli fired in a cross from the left, but Luke McNally was on hand to clear.
United counter attacked well in the first half. A brisk counter from a Cabo corner led to Browne finding Adeyemo, his pace and direct running caused problems for the opposition defence.
He linked up with Amour and Conor Kane but again failed to deliver and end product, and Peter Quinlan in the Cabinteely goal was able to gather.
The best chance of the half fell to Cabinteely as frontman Barnes exchanged passes with the energetic James Woods before Barnes fired into the side netting.
The Dubliners got on top early in the second half and Barnes again won the ball high up the pitch in before feeding Oisin McMenamin inside the box.
McMenamin took the ball past McNally, who had a little nibble, and stayed on his feet to strike the ball past Luca Gratzer in the Drogheda goal, but Sean Trimble was on hand to clear as there was too little pace on the ball.
Cabo’s confidence grew, Jack Watson and Luke Clucas began to control the midfield, and just before minute Drogheda’s insistence on playing out from the back led to possession being lost in a dangerous area.
The ball found itself at the feet of Kalandarishvilli four yards outside the box and his left footed strike produced a fine save from Gratzer.
Chances fell to both McMenamin and Clucas but Gratzer was on hand to save again. Large gaps were appearing in the Drogs defence and Cabo were looking to exploit them.
With 20 minutes remaining, Cabinteely got the chance their second-half play deserved a corner was swung in from the right and Gratzer looked to claim, but he fumbled before pouncing on Clucas and dragging him down.
Referee Alan Patchell was on the mark and gave a penalty. Drogheda could have no complaints. Clucas stepped up and fired high to the goalkeepers left giving him no chance. It was an emphatic finish, and no more than Cabo deserved.
United were now faced with an uphill task. All three substitutions had been made so Tim Clancy couldn’t bring on another striker, such as Chris Lyons, and this showed as Stephen Meaney cut a lonely figure up top.
The Boynesiders created some chances, however. Eoin McPhillips who had replaced cramp-stricken Jay Amour forced a save from Quinlan when he cut in and unleashed a stinging strike with his left foot.
Cabo were happy to sit on their one goal lead and defended well. Johnny Carlin and Sean Fitzpatrick were solid at the back and Watson was tireless in midfield.
The introduction from the bench of Jackson Ryan and Ollie Hamzat provided the Dubliners with new energy and Hamzat asked questions of the United defence.
Both substitutes combined as Hamzat took a beautiful touch and rolled his man before driving the ball across the United six-yard box but Clucas just couldn’t get enough on it to force it into the net.
Cabo played out the remaining minutes on their terms, and the introduction of Mark Doyle couldn’t provide enough of a spark to light the Drogs attack into life.
Drogheda United: Luca Gratzer (GK), James Brown, Sean Trimble, Luke McNally, Conor Kane (C), Mark Hughes (James Clarke 59), Luke Heeney, Cian Kavanagh, Jordan Adeyemo (Mark Doyle 59), Jay Amour (Eoin McPhillips 68), Stephen Meaney
Subs not used: Dan Grace (GK), Dylan Connolly, Chris Lyons, Lee McKevitt
Booked: James Browne (61).
Cabinteely: Peter Quinlan (GK), Adam Maher, Sean Fitzpatrick, Johnny Carlin, Ronan O’Kelly, James Woods, Jack Watson (C), Luke Clucas, Nika Kalandarishvilli (Jackson Ryan 79), Shane Barnes, Oisin McMenamin (Ollie Hamzat 79)
Subs not used: Ben Clarke, Jack Hudson, Zack O’Neill, Vilius Labuts,
Booked: Sean Fitzpatrick (80).
Referee: Alan Patchell.
Attendance: 150 (estimate).
Extratime.ie Player of the Match: Jack Watson (Cabinteely).