Dundalk 3-0 UCD
Fahrudin Kuduzovic’s 88th-minute strike lifted Dundalk to the top of the Premier Division for the first time in 15 years as the Lilywhites recorded their first home win since last September with a 3-0 victory over UCD at Oriel Park on Friday night.Following a scoreless first half, JJ Melligan put the hosts on their way shortly after the break and Garry Breen added a second 16 minutes from time, before Faz struck in the dying minutes, a goal which coupled with Drogheda United’s late winner in Richmond Park sent Dundalk to the summit of the league for the first time since they won the title in April 1995. It was also the club’s first league win over the Students since October 1998.
Ian Foster lined out with the same team as the last three games but it was a slower start this time as UCD made most of the early running. Their best chance came on the quarter-hour when Ciarán Kilduff capitalised on a mix-up, but his effort from 25-yards did little to worry Peter Cherrie. Dundalk, who at times created some superb passages of passing which only lacked the final ball, had their first real effort on goal when Wayne Hatswell attempted to lob Billy Brennan from all of 50-yards. Faz then warmed the hands of Brennan as the hosts began to get a foothold in the game.
Neale Fenn drilled wide moments later and shortly before half-time a trademark 30-yard free-kick from Hatswell whistled past Brennan’s right-hand post. However, with 11 of the sides’ 12 goals this term coming in the second half, it was no surprise that they remained scoreless at the break. Within ten minutes of the restart, though, Dundalk were ahead. Fenn worked his magic and passed to Faz who cleverly left the ball for Melligan who raced into the box and rounded Brennan before slotting into an empty net for his first competitive club goal. Melligan tried to double his tally soon after but his long-range effort was the wrong side of the post and then Stephen Maher threatened with a similar shot, this time Brennan forced to push the ball behind.
Three and easy
However, in their next attack Dundalk did make it 2-0. Melligan’s corner was met by the head of Hatswell and landed at the feet of Faz whose delicate delivery back across goal left Breen with the easiest of tasks. It was the former Galway United defender’s second of the season having also netted a late winner in Bray on the opening day. Dundalk continued on the front foot as they looked to kill off the game, but they were fortunate to survive on 80 minutes when another fine save from Cherrie went only as far as Peter McMahon who couldn’t get a clean connection, the ball going harmlessly wide. It was a very rare threat from UCD, and Faz completed the scoring late on when Ross Gaynor made a superb forward run, cutting through the visiting defence and laying off to the Bosnian star whose first-time shot to the bottom corner was sublime.
NICE ONE Man of the Match: JJ MELLIGAN (DUNDALK) – Another energy-filled midfield performance from the 28-year-old and an expertly-taken goal. Stephen Maher was the dundalkfc.com choice as he produced his best performance yet for the club following on from an impressive display in Sligo on Monday. The former Saint Patrick’s Athletic star is playing in an unfamiliar position this season but seems to have settled into it now and he has been a key figure in Dundalk’s rise to the top.
DUNDALK FC (4-3-3): Peter Cherrie; Shaun Kelly, Garry Breen, Liam Burns, Wayne Hatswell; JJ Melligan, Tom Miller (Ciarán McGuigan 80), Stephen Maher; Fahrudin Kuduzovic (Michael Synnott 88), Neale Fenn (Johnny Breen 77), Ross Gaynor.
Goals: JJ Melligan (55), G Breen (74), F Kuduzovic (88).
Booked: T Miller (34), F Kuduzovic (42), S Maher (62), C McGuigan (92).
Unused Subs: Matt Gregg (GK), Nathan Murphy.
UCD AFC (4-4-2): Billy Brennan; Brian Shortall, Andy Boyle, Evan McMillan, Ciarán Nangle; Peter McMahon, Greg Bolger (Robbie Creevy 65), Paul Corry, David McMillan (Keith Ward 56); Ciarán Kilduff (Sean Houston 65), Graham Rusk.
Booked: R Creevy (76).
Unused Subs: Gerard Barron (GK), Sean Harding.
Referee: Damien Hancock (Dublin).