Dundalk back in league action with win at St Pat’s
Dundalk FC returned to SSE Airtricity League action with a deserved 1-0 win at Richmond Park on Saturday afternoon.
A 52nd minute John Mountney strike was enough to give the Lilywhites all three points in their first league game in three weeks, thanks to their involvement in the UEFA Champions League.
It could have been more than one with chances at the end for a side reinforced by a stellar substitutes’ bench, but head coach Vinny Perth will be more than satisfied with an important three points to send his side eight points clear at the top of the table, for almost 24 hours at least.
On a warm and sunny late Dublin afternoon, the Dundalk management team once again used the strength in depth of their squad, making eight changes to the starting XI from the 1-1 draw with Qarabag on Wednesday.
Cameron Dummigan made his full league debut for the Lilywhites, while Brian Gartland returned to captain the side from the heart of the back four.
John Mountney started in front of Chris Shields and Sean Murray in the midfield three, with Patrick McEleney on the left and Daniel Kelly on the right of Georgie Kelly, making his third league start for the Lilywhites.
Pats had the better of the opening exchanges, with Dean Clarke twice finding space down the right hand side with no end product, before Mikey Drennan shot a free kick from 25 yards straight at Gary Rogers.
Dundalk’s first opening came on 20 minutes when Daniel Cleary found Dean Jarvis in space on the left. Jarvis’ driven cross was met on the volley by John Mountney at the far post, but the strike was close to Brendan Clarke who saved sharply.
The Lilywhites grew more into the game and, on 26 minutes, Patrick McEleney worked himself into space on the edge of the box, but his shot was comfortably plucked by Clarke before it reached the top corner.
On the half-hour mark, a chance for Dundalk almost presented itself, but after nice interplay in the midfield, John Mountney’s attempted slide-rule pass for the onrushing Dan Kelly was well cut out by Kevin Toner with a crucial sliding stop.
Dundalk upped the tempo as the half wore on and former Lilywhite Conor Clifford was booked for a cynical trip on McEleney as Dundalk broke.
The midfielder then forced the first of a series of corners for Dundalk, with one in particular causing a moment of alarm for Pats, as Sean Murray’s inswinging ball whipped over the heads of Georgie Kelly and Brian Gartland before striking David Webster. The centre back didn’t know too much about it as the ball hit him, but it dropped favourably and Pats cleared.
Dundalk started the second half on the front foot, with Patrick McEleney causing Pats all sorts of problems on the left-hand side.
First the Derryman skipped past a couple of challenges and stood the ball up for Georgie Kelly at the far post, but the striker could only header wide whilst trying to put all the pace on the ball.
But Dundalk made the all-important breakthrough a minute later. McEleney got to the byline on the left and his cutback evaded Sean Murray before finding John Mountney in space, who made no mistake with his left foot from 10 yards.
With Dundalk taking a grip on the game, Vinny Perth called for the first of his stellar replacements. Jamie McGrath replaced Daniel Kelly on 63 minutes, dropping into the number 10 role with John Mountney moving out to the right hand side.
McGrath was straight in the action as Dean Jarvis was first to the ball with a sliding challenge in midfield, but McGrath’s shot from 20 yards was straight at Clarke.
With 73 minutes gone, Patrick Hoban then replaced Georgie Kelly for Dundalk, whilst James Doona and Chris Forrester both came off the bench for Pats.
Forrester’s first action was to bring down Chris Shields 25 yards out after the Dundalk midfielder was set off on a break by a lovely touch from Jamie McGrath in his own hald.
Forrester was booked before Sean Murray whistled the free kick past the top left hand corner of Clarke’s goal.
There was late drama when Mikey Drennan was adjudged to have fouled Gary Rogers when the Dundalk keeper bravely punched a cross clear. Drennan was not happy with the decision and appeared to be booked for dissent, but then persisted his complaints and was given a second yellow followed by a red.
As injury time approached, Gary Rogers raced well from his line to clear for Dundalk and set them on the break, a move which ended with a Chris Shields strike flying narrowly over from 20 yards.
Pats launched a few late missiles into the Dundalk box, but the Lilywhites came closest to scoring when Hoban, McGrath and final sub Michael Duffy broke in injury time. McGrath could have shot but chose to cross for Hoban, but a challenge denied him, only for McGrath to be flagged off-side on the return pass.
No harm in the end for Dundalk, however, as the final whistle blew soon after to make it a fine afternoon in the sun for the travelling Lilywhite Army. Next stop Baku.
ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC FC: Brendan Clarke (GK); David Webster, Lee Desmond, Ciaran Kelly, Kevin Toner, Ian Bermingham (James Doona, 74′); Darragh Markey (Cian Coleman, 81′), Jamie Lennon (Chris Forrester, 74′), Conor Clifford; Dean Clarke, Mikey Drennan
Subs not used: Barry Murphy (GK), Gary Shaw, Simon Madden, Jake Walker
Booked: Clifford 35′, Webster 59′, Forrester 75′, Drennan 87′
Sent off: Drennan 87′
DUNDALK FC: Gary Rogers (GK); Cameron Dummigan, Brian Gartland (c), Daniel Cleary, Dean Jarvis; Chris Shields, Sean Murray (Michael Duffy, 80′), John Mountney; Daniel Kelly (Jamie McGrath, 63′), Patrick McEleney; Georgie Kelly (Patrick Hoban, 73′)
Subs not used: Aaron McCarey (GK), Sean Gannon, Sean Hoare, Dane Massey.
Sent off: None
Referee: Robert Hennessy