Drogheda United 1-1 Dundalk
Conor Kenna and Chris Turner traded places but Drogheda United were unable to break down a resolute ten-man Dundalk as the Boynesiders’ wait for a first home win of the year goes on after being held to a 1-1 draw in the second Louth derby of the season at United Park on Friday night. Kenna, who was sent off in the first of those, proved the hosts’ hero as he cancelled out a penalty from Turner, his third successful spot-kick against the Drogs this term, just seconds after the midfielder was dismissed for deliberate handball.
Dundalk looked on course for victory when Turner, who returned to the side after serving a suspension last week, fired past ex-Lilywhite ‘keeper Steve Williams from the spot after another former Dundalk player, Paul Shiels, pulled down Ger Rowe inside the area. The game turned on its head on the stroke of half-time, however, as Turner saw red after receiving his second yellow in the space of three minutes before, from the resulting free kick by Robbie Clarke, Kenna equalised after connecting well with Alan McNally’s knockdown. However, Drogheda, despite owning possession in the second half, were unable to take advantage of the extra man and were forced to settle for a point.
Dundalk made two change to the team that defeated Galway United as Turner’s return filled the void left by George O’Callaghan’s ban. Also serving a suspension was former Drogheda captain Declan O’Brien, who was dismissed late on against Galway, with Rowe coming in for just his second start for the club. Harpal Singh, who was available again after a ban, was on the bench. Drogheda, meanwhile, started with six ex-Dundalk players – Williams, Clarke, Shiels, Ian Ryan, Jamie Duffy and Robbie Martin – while Davie O’Connor took his place on the bench. Dundalk’s two highest goalscorers from last season, Robbie Farrell and Paul Crowley, sat in the stands as they were unavailable through injury.
After an even opening, Drogheda were the first to threaten when, just past the quarter-hour, a James Chambers cross caused panic in the Dundalk box as Brian King mis-controlled before Chris Bennion was lucky to save at the feet of former team-mate Martin. The visitors, who started slowly, replied shortly after, however, with Turner’s placed drive from 15-yards whistling just past Williams’ upright. Drogheda then went close from a free and Duffy shot straight at Bennion from a good position after a neat ball over the top by Chambers, before Shaun Kelly had a loud appeal for a penalty waved away.
On the half-hour, Dundalk were again on the front foot and Darren Mansaram’s poke-through handed Michael Daly an opening but his effort was blocked by Williams before the danger was cleared temporarily. From the resultant play, however, a long throw-in was allowed to bounce and Shiels was adjudged to have dragged down Rowe just outside the six-yard area. It was the third penalty that Dundalk had been awarded this season with all three against Drogheda and, having converted two in the Oriel Park meeting back in March, Turner again easily dispatched the ball beyond Williams.
With Dundalk seemingly coasting, the game took a dramatic twist right on half-time as the visitors were first reduced to ten men before they were hit with a double blow when Kenna equalised with the last kick of the half. Turner, who had been booked just three minutes earlier for a mistimed tackle, attracted more attention from the referee when he handled deliberately just inside the Drogheda half. It was the third game in a row that Dundalk had a player dismissed, but unlike the previous two this one led to a goal as Kenna fired in a tremendous strike from the edge of the area after McNally flicked on Clarke’s long free.
Within moments of the restart, Dundalk were almost in front again, though, as Ian Ryan’s header back to Williams forced the Welsh ‘keeper into a full-length stretch to tip the ball around the post. It was a rare chance for Sean Connor’s men as Drogheda held possession for most of half. However, they were unable to convert that into clear chances, with a header from Chambers midway through the half their only opening, the former Shelbourne midfielder’s effort being cleared off the line by captain Thomas Heary. Mansaram then saw a curling shot from 20-yards go the wrong side of the post as the visitors threatened a late winner on the break, but the teams were made to settle for a point apiece as they played out the first league draw between the clubs at United Park since December 1991.
DROGHEDA UNITED FC (4-4-2): Steve Williams; Ian Ryan (Davie O’Connor 78), Conor Kenna, Alan McNally, Robbie Clarke; Gavin Whelan, Paul Shiels, James Chambers, Brian King (Shane Barrett 63); Jamie Duffy, Robbie Martin.
Goal: C Kenna (45+1).
Booked: P Shiels (33), A McNally (88).
Unused Subs: Paul Skinner (GK), Mark Salmon, Eoghan Osbourne.
DUNDALK FC (4-4-2): Chris Bennion; Michael Coburn, Thomas Heary, Simon Kelly, Michael Synnott; Shaun Kelly, Chris Turner, Michael Daly, Tiarnán Mulvenna; Darren Mansaram, Ger Rowe.
Goal: C Turner (34 pen).
Booked: T Mulvenna (14), C Turner (42, 45), D Mansaram (44).
Sent Off: C Turner (45).
Unused Subs: Ryan Coulter (GK), Harpal Singh, Michael McGinlay, Sean Mackle, Nathan Murphy.
Referee: Dave McKeon (Dublin).