Lilywhites Title Hopes Dealt A Hammer Blow In Dalymount
Dundalk’s bid for a third consecutive SSE Airtricity League title is hanging in the balance after a disappointing 2-1 defeat against Bohemians at Dalymount Park on Friday evening.
Early goals from Danny Grant and Keith Buckley put Bohs in the driving seat and although Michael Duffy pulled one back with a fine header before the break, Keith Long’s side ran out deserving winners.
The result leaves the reigning champions in third place with just 11 games to go and Shamrock Rovers can open up an eight-point lead over the Lilywhites if they can beat Derry City at the Brandywell this Sunday.
Playing into an empty Des Kelly Stand, Dundalk started relatively brightly but they slipped behind with just seven minutes played as Bohs hit the front with their first attack of the evening.
Anto Breslin was afforded time to swing in a first-time cross from the left and Danny Grant nipped in on the blind side of Dane Massey to steer his header back across goal and past Gary Rogers.
Things went from bad to worse nine minutes later as the hosts doubled their lead. Keith Buckley found himself free on the edge of the penalty area and his low drive beat Rogers with the aid of a slight deflection to leave Dundalk with a mountain to climb.
With their tails up, the Gypsies went in search of a killer third and Daniel Cleary had to make a smart block on Andre Wright before Rogers stood tall to do likewise and stop JJ Lunney from putting the result beyond doubt.
Vinny Perth reacted by bringing John Mountney on for Daniel Kelly. That move allowed Stefan Colovic to occupy his favored right-wing position and he started to make an impact, whipping in a devilish cross that just evaded Patrick Hoban just past the half-hour.
The Serbian winger found his range in the 42nd minute, however, delivering another missile into the Bohemians penalty area and Michael Duffy rose powerfully to slam a vital header past McGuinness and claw Dundalk back into it.
That goal threw the champions a lifeline but they were equally as thankful to Rogers for making another fine save on the stroke of half-time when the veteran goalkeeper got his fingertips on a Wright header to divert the ball over his crossbar.
After returning to the pitch early at the beginning of the second half, Dundalk almost found themselves on level terms just seconds after the restart when Duffy found Hoban in the penalty area but, with Dan Casey tugging on his shirt, the striker’s header smacked against the crossbar with Mountney unable to beat McGuinness with the follow-up.
Bohs looked to capitalise on the break and the ever-dangerous Grant flashed an effort across the face of the Dundalk goal before Rogers made yet another vital save to keep his side in the game; Kris Twardek denied on this occasion. Substitute Dawson Devoy then lofted one off-target after another quick counter.
Will Patching was introduced as Dundalk tried to pull it out of the fire and they went within a whisker of pulling level with 13 minutes to pay when Duffy’s free fell for Cleary in the six-yard box but he just couldn’t find the angle needed to squeeze his shot inside the far post.
John Mountney fired a left-footed effort over the top in the dying stages and although Dundalk pushed for a leveler, it just didn’t materialise as Bohs saw it out to leapfrog the visitors into second place.
BOHEMIANS: Stephen McGuinness; Andy Lyons, Rob Cornwall, Dan Casey, Anto Breslin; Keith Buckley, Keith Ward (Dawson Devoy 65), JJ Lunney; Kris Twardek, Andre Wright, Danny Grant. Subs not used: James Talbot (GK), James Finnerty, Ciaran Kelly, Conor Levingston, Promise Omochere, Dinny Corcoran.
DUNDALK FC: Gary Rogers; Sean Gannon, Daniel Cleary, Andy Boyle, Dane Massey (Nathan Oduwa 87); Chris Shields, Jordan Flores (Will Patching 66); Daniel Kelly (John Mountney 34), Stefan Colovic, Michael Duffy; Patrick Hoban. Subs not used: Aaron McCarey (GK), Brian Gartland, Greg Sloggett, Cameron Dummigan.
REFEREE: Neil Doyle.