UCD AFC played out a pulsating 1-1 draw in the UCD Bowl on Friday night.
Airtricity League Premier Division
Friday 27th April 2012
UCD AFC 1-1 Drogheda United
Ledwith 69' McNally 83'
By Ryan Bailey
UCD had to settle for a share of the spoils on Friday evening as Drogheda scored a late goal to deny the Students a hard earned victory. After an even first half, Danny Ledwith’s curling effort put the home side into a deserved lead but with just ten minutes remaining, the Louth side levelled through captain Alan McNally.
Skipper Mick Leahy returned to the starting XI while Robbie Benson played just behind Chris Lyons in attack. Heading into the game, Mick Cooke’s side were unbeaten since the opening game of the season and have been in fine form. UCD made the brighter start though as Hugh Douglas headed over from Paul Corry’s in swinging free kick.
Chris Lyons has proved to be the ultimate “fox in the box” this season for the U19 side and has brought his good form into the first team but he wasted a glorious chance just six minutes in. Paul O’Conor found space in midfield before slipping in the young striker but he miscued his effort and it never troubled the visitors’ goal.
Both sides were playing some good football in midfield but lacked the killer instinct in the final third. Drogheda created their first chance half way through the first period, Ryan Brennan, one of three brothers involved, found O’Brien on the left but his fierce shot come cross fired across goal with UCD shot stopper Mark McGinley comfortably seeing it out for a goal kick. Drogs began to create a few more openings as the break approached and it was Ryan Brennan again who was causing the problems but he couldn’t keep his header down after a dangerous cross from the left.
Gary Burke did keep the visitors’ keeper on his toes however as he met Dave O’Connor’s cross but his header was straight into his gloves. It was a mainly uneventful first period with both sides cancelling each other out in the middle of the park.
Martin Russell made a change at the break and the substitution made an instant impact. Mark Langtry replaced Gary Burke on the right and it was that flank in which UCD nearly opened the scoring from. Paul O’Conor broke forward before feeding Langtry on the right who crossed for Lyons but a last ditch tackle by Gannon denied the shot but it fell to the on rushing Danny Ledwith and his stinging shot missed by inches with Gabriel Sava scrambling across his goal.
The home side were now well on top and another Corry free kick fell to Lyons on the edge of the box. He composed himself before shooting towards the top corner but Sava once again pulled of a decent save to deny him. It wasn’t just the Students who were looking dangerous in attack as the visitors nearly stole the lead just before the hour mark. A goal mouth scramble followed a corner and Declan O’Brien’s header was cleared off the line by Ledwith.
It was now end to end with both sides having chances and it was the impressive Tiernan Mulvenna to squander the latest opportunity. He escaped the UCD backline but his attempted lob over McGinley never looked like finding the back of the net. Moments later, Martin Russell’s men hit the front with a typical free flowing goal. After Drogs had been on the attack, Graham Rusk linked well with O’Conor in midfield before Rusk drove at the heart of the Drogheda back line but was tackled on the edge of the area with the ball only falling to Ledwith who cut inside and curled a brilliant effort past the outstretched Sava into the far corner. It was a lead the home side probably deserved considering the chances they had created.
Mick Cooke has done a superb job so far with Drogheda and they have been flying high this season so far and weren’t going to lie down. They instantly looked for the equaliser but were denied minutes after UCD had taken the lead by the post. Mulvenna was found by Gavin Brennan this time but after beating McGinley, he saw his effort come back off the upright. The away side began to turn the screw and if it wasn’t for a fine save from McGinley from Gavin Brennan’s long range effort or Dave O’Connor’s last ditch block, then UCD might have found themselves level.
Cillian Morrison replaced Chris Lyons who once again impressed up front and a brief reprieve from the pressure saw Paul Corry sting the fingertips of Sava with a long range effort. However Drogheda continued to search for the leveller and were once again denied by the woodwork. This time centre back Prendergast somehow missed from a couple of yards as his effort hit the underside of the bar before being cleared to safety.
With eight minutes remaining, Drogheda found the equaliser that their play had probably deserved. It was another set piece as Sean Brennan headed back across goal from Foley’s corner for captain Alan McNally to head past McGinley into the corner. It could have been a long last few minutes to the game for UCD but the goal seemed to spur them on and within minutes could have regained the lead.
Firstly, Corry’s free kick was headed goal wards by the returning Samir Belhout but his header was once again saved by the flamboyant Sava and from the resulting corner, Morrison found space on the right before firing a low cross to the back stick but Graham Rusk miscued from a few yards out to balloon his effort over the bar. It was now the home side who looked the more likely and again Corry shot from distance with just minutes remaining but his effort went just wide of the post.
The game was open as both sides looked for a winner and McGinley had to be alert to pull off a good save from Brady on the right before Paul O’Conor got himself back onto the line after a nervy goal mouth scramble to deny McNally his second goal this time deep into stoppage time.
Both sides deserved something from the game and a draw was probably a fair result but the score line could have been a whole lot different. UCD move to eight points and remain in 10th as they prepare for next Friday’s visit to Tallaght to play champions Shamrock Rovers.
ucdsoccer.com man of the match: There was some fine individual performances from both Corry and O’Conor in midfield but man of the match goes to Danny Ledwith who not only scored the opener but also had a solid game at left back, clearing a goal bound effort off the line and was a constant threat going forward as well.
UCD AFC: Mark McGinley, Hugh Douglas, Mick Leahy (c), David O’Connor, Danny Ledwith, Gary Burke (Langtry 45’), Paul O’Conor, Graham Rusk, Robbie Benson (Morrison 63’), Chris Lyons (Belhout 71’)
Booked: Leahy (33’), Ledwith (62’), Belhout (80’)
Subs not used: Corbett (GK), Kavanagh, McCabe, Clarke
Drogheda United: Sava, Quigley (Brady 74’), Prendergast, McNally (c), R.Brennan (S.Brennan 71’), Mulvenna, G.Brennan, Grimes, Gannon, O’Brien (Hynes 65’), Foley