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UCD 1 - 0 Drogheda United

November 7, 2018

A late David McMillan penalty handed ten-man UCD all three points against a lacklustre Drogheda United at Belfield on Saturday night.

Suspensions to Ryan and Gavin Brennan opened the door for the midfield pair of John Sullivan and Jason Marks, with Michael Schlingermann and former College stalwart Alan McNally’s inclusion also giving the Drogs backline a much changed complexion to complement the new-look midfield.

The margin may have been slim, but in truth UCD were well worth their win as McMillan’s 83rd minute spot-kick saw the Students claim yet another notable scalp this year, and denied Drogheda the perfect opportunity to leapfrog St. Pat’s in the race for second.

Crisp Night
The UCD Bowl surface looked in splendid condition despite the autumn chill ahead of Saturday’s encounter, as did UCD’s prospects when less than a minute in Michael Leahy’s header from a Chris Mulhall corner forced a last-ditch clearance form the well positioned Philip Hand.

Drogheda opened their shot account on 10, as after some fine interplay between Paul Crowley and Hand on the left wing Hand’s whipped cross could only be turned onto the side netting by the inrushing Brian Gannon.

Drogheda, whose surprise selection Schlingermann had more touches than any other United player in the game’s formative stages, did manage to break free from their defensive shackles once more on 19, but Derek Prendergast’s header from Hand’s corner flashed wide of the upright.

Those unfamiliar with the intricacies of this year’s Premier Division would have found difficulty distinguishing the one-time relegation candidates from the league title contenders in this encounter as UCD practically monopolised possession in the first half.

And Martin Russell’s men were duly afforded two opportunities to seize the initiative before half time. First, Paul O’Conor’s audacious long-distance effort after he had dinked the ball over two Drogheda players with impunity was well dealt with by Schlingermann, who repeated the trick on 38 as he palmed a rasping Robbie Benson drive around the post.

Game Changer?
Early second half signs were no less ominous for Drogheda, as Schlingermann was once again called upon to make an acrobatic save from Chris Mulhall’s piledriver just two minutes in.

The former Mayo minor was once again the hero as he repelled McMillan’s angled shot on 49, but the netminder had his post to thank four minutes later as Gary Burke’s dazzling 25-yard effort rebounded off the upright.

Perhaps tired of being made look decidedly average by less illustrious opposition, this season’s EA Sports Cup champions finally seemed to kick into action on 62 as the heretofore anonymous Declan O’Brien rose highest to connect with Hand’s free-kick, but his header lacked direction.

Then came what the Drogheda fans present were sure would be the turning point. Having beaten the offside trap, O’Brien found himself bearing down on goal on 73 only to be hauled unceremoniously to the ground by Danny O’Connor. Left with no choice, Maltese referee Trustin Farrugia Cann saw fit to give the defender his marching orders.

Peno Perfect
After substitute Sean Brennan had sent his free-kick whizzing past the right post on 75, the home side were handed a huge let-off two minutes later as Crowley’s stinging strike from a Tiarnán Mulvenna centre was hacked off the line by Leahy with Ger Barron beaten.

Given their numerical disadvantage, one would surely have thought it would be curtains for the plucky south Dubliners. But one would be wrong, as less than 10 minutes after the sending-off UCD found themselves in the lead.

A lightning counter attack saw lone-striker McMillan seize possession and, with the opposition goal looming, a clumsy challenge from Prendergast meant the referee had no alternative but to point to the spot, McMillan himself hammering a delectable penalty into the right corner past the despairing dive of Schlingermann to give the hosts a most surprising of leads.

Despite their dumbfounding predicament, the visitors were handed one last shot at redemption on 85. After Barron had fumbled another dangerous Hand delivery, Alan Byrne reacted quickly to fire the loose ball to the back of the net only to be harshly adjudged to have fouled the UCD custodian in the process.

Given the weekend’s other scorelines a defeat was hardly detrimental to Drogheda’s second-place aspirations, but with just two games left it could be regarded as an opportunity missed come the season’s end.

 

Drogheda United:
20 Michael Schlingermann
3 Philip Hand
4 Derek Prendergast
5 Alan McNally
6 John Sullivan (S. Brennan 70)
15 Peter Hynes (Mulvenna 57)
16 Paul Crowley ©
17 Brian Gannon
19 Declan O’Brien
23 Jason Marks
28 Alan Byrne
Subs not used:
Gabriel Sava
Stephen Quigley
John Breen
Connor O’Keeffe

UCD:
1 Ger Barron
13 Hugh Douglas
3 Ciarán Nangle
4 David O’Connor
5 Michael Leahy ©
8 Paul O’Conor
10 Robbie Benson (McCabe 83)
7 Gary Burke (Langtry 78)
23 David McMillan
25 Samir Belhout (Clarke 67)
11 Chris Mulhall
Subs not used:
Danny Ledwith
James Kavanagh
Chris Lyons
Mark McGinley

Shots:
Drogheda 8
UCD 10

Corners:
Drogheda 7
UCD 9

Yellow cards:
Drogheda 1 (Peter Hynes)
UCD 1 (Chris Mulhall)

Red cards:
UCD 1 (David O’Connor)

Referee: Trustin Farrugia Cann

Droghedaunited.ie Man of the Match: Paul O’Conor

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