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Cluj strike late but plenty of positives for the Lilywhites in Spain

First Team News
// 22 Jan 2020

Dundalk FC 1-2 CFR Cluj | Pre-Season Friendly

Dundalk continued their preparations for the upcoming SSE Airtricity League season with a very encouraging display against Romanian champions CFR Cluj at the Oliva Nova Sports Center resort in Spain on Wednesday afternoon.

Vinny Perth’s side took a 1-0 lead into the break thanks to Andy Boyle’s towering header but Cluj drew level through George Tucudian’s crisp finish with 18 minutes to go before substitute Claudiu Petrila won it with a cracking effort just three minutes from time.

Dan Petrescu’s men are preparing for a Europa League Last 32 round tie with Sevilla next month and they almost opened the scoring with less than two minutes on the clock. Chris Shields lost his footing in the middle of the park allowing Catalin Golofca the time to pick out left-winger Michael Pereira but he blazed his effort across the face of Gary Rogers’ goal.

Scottish player Cammy Smith, who has been training with the Lilywhites over the past couple of days, was given a chance to impress and he almost made an instant impression, forcing Cluj goalkeeper Otto Hindrich into a fine stop at his near post in the 10th minute.

Cluj named 37-year-old former Romanian international midfielder Ovidiu Hoban in their starting XI but it was his namesake in white, Patrick, who went agonisingly close to putting Dundalk ahead midway through the half when he charged down a clearance from Hindrich only to see his subsequent effort crawl just wide of the upright.

Hindrich was left rooted to his line for the opener in the 26th minute. Michael Duffy floated a corner in from the right and Boyle showed great determination to get up above Cluj defender Mike Cestor and power his header home.

Will Patching came off the bench to replace Smith in the 53rd minute but he found himself on the pitch for just six minutes after falling heavily on his shoulder just shy of the hour. He was replaced by John Mountney as both managers started to ring the changes.

Jordan Flores was also introduced on the hour mark and he went close to making it 2-0 when he held off the challenge of Sylla Yacouba to close in on the penalty area but his right-footed effort just had too much elevation to trouble Hindrich.

Dundalk continued to create chances and the former Wigan midfielder curled a free-kick over the top before American midfielder Taner Dogan misdirected a header after peeling away to the far post to meet Daniel Kelly’s left-wing cross.

Cluj fashioned their best opening of the second half in the 72nd minute when Petrila forced a good stop from Gabriel Sava but the substitute ‘keeper could do little to prevent Tucudian’s whistling effort from flying under him just seconds later.

The Romanians stepped things up after that and the winner arrived with three minutes to go when Claudiu Petrila collected a Damjan Djokovic pass on the inside left and the 19-year-old rifled the ball past Sava to claim the win for Cluj.

Dundalk will play their second Spanish friendly on Friday when they meet Russian giants CSKA Moscow at 4pm.

DUNDALK FC: Gary Rogers (Gabriel Sava 71); Sean Gannon (Sean Hoare 66), Daniel Cleary (Brian Gartland 59), Andy Boyle, Darragh Leahy (Dane Massey HT); Chris Shields (Jordan Flores 61), Greg Sloggett; Daniel Kelly, Cammy Smith (Will Patching 53) (John Mountney 59), Michael Duffy (Taner Dogan 66); Patrick Hoban (Georgie Kelly 60).

CFR CLUJ: Otto Hindrich; Denis Ciobotariu, Paulo Vinicius, Mike Cestor, Mihai Butean (Petrila Claudiu); Catalin Itu (Damjan Djokovic), Ovidiu Hoban (Sylla Yacouba), Adrian Paun (Aurelio Luis); Catalin Golofca (George Tucudian), Lacina Traore (Claudiu Petrila), Michael Pereira (Billei Omrani).

Picture by Ciaran Culligan Photography