UCD AFC were narrowly beaten in this mid season friendly in the UCD Bowl.
Mid Season Friendly
Tuesday 24th July 2012
UCD AFC 3-4 Stevenage FC
Corry 40' Haber 6'
McMillan 49' Shroot 72', 75'
Ledwith 73' Tansey 86'
UCD lost by the odd goal in a highly entertaining seven goal mid-season friendly against Stevenage FC at the UCD Bowl on Tuesday night.
Conditions at Belfield were atrocious throughout, with heavy rain and strong winds threatening to disrupt the flow of play. It was testament to the ground staff at The Bowl that the pitch held up so well and thus, allowed the players to freely express themselves.
UCD had secured a credible draw against high flyers St Pats in their last outing only two days previously. Last season, Stevenage lost out in the play-off semi-final having finished sixth in League One.
This freshness told in the first twenty minutes as the English side dominated.It took them only six minutes to take the lead. Marcus Haber ran strongly at the UCD defence on the right wing. He won a throw in which fell to Filipe Morais. The winger’s cross found Haber at the front post and the finish could not have been easier from four yards.
Two minutes later, Stevenage could have doubled their advantage. Good play by Morais on the right once more saw him play a cross to the back post. Luke Freeman was on the end of it and would have scored had it not been for an excellent block by Hugh Douglas.
UCD gradually began to secure more possession and they were able to create a few half chances towards the middle of the half. A half-volley from Samir Belhout after twenty-nine minutes was always rising from twelve yards.
The UCD goal when it came was well worth the wait. A poor challenge from Anthony Grant gave The Students a free on the right-hand edge of the box. UCD took it quickly to Paul Corry, who hit the ball as sweet as a nut from thirty yards out. Steve Arnold in the Stevenage goal could only parry the ball into the top left-hand corner of the net.
Five minutes later, referee Tom Connolly brought the half to a close. UCD were arguably lucky to be level but they vastly improved in the second half.
Paul O’Conor came on at half-time and forced a save from Arnold after only a minute of the second half. His thirty yard effort forced the keeper to tip the ball around his left-hand post.
Three minutes later, College had the lead. A good run by another half-time substitute, Sean Russell, saw UCD awarded a penalty. The spot kick was taken by recent re-signing Dave McMillan whose effort straight down the middle went in off the crossbar. The excitement shown by stand-in stadium announcer Philip Bourke, when calling out the goal scorer, did his chances of taking up the position permanently no harm!
Russell looked a real threat for the students and he won a free kick in the fiftieth minute on the right-hand edge of the box. His dangerous cross was just about cleared by the Stevenage defence at the front post.
The next clear chance of the game came just after the hour mark and it also involved Russell. He played a one-two with Barry McCabe before crossing low for Tyrone McNelis. The forward’s effort was just wide to the right of the Stevenage goal however.
UCD goal keeper Mark McGinley will not want to see the equaliser again. He tried to be too clever in his own box. He rounded Patrick Agyemang but lost the ball to Robin Shroot. The best efforts of Douglas could not prevent Shroot finishing into a virtually empty net.
It only took a minute for UCD to re-take the lead. Danny Ledwith has scored a few excellent goals from free-kicks this season but this one was a little more fortuitous than his others. He floated a ball in from thirty-five yards out on the right. His high looping ball was missed by UCD and Stevenage players alike before nestling slowly into the bottom left-hand corner of Arnold’s goal.
Stevenage’s equaliser came in the seventy-fifth minute and it was a goal of real skill. Shroot collected a pass in the middle of the park and went on a run. He beat two UCD players on the right wing before entering the box, rounding McGinley, and finishing into the left-hand corner of the goal. It was a great goal, worthy of any occasion.
The English side won the game late on. Douglas felled Agyemang on the edge of the College box with four minutes left on the clock. Greg Tansey’s effort left McGinley rooted to the spot as it found the top left-hand corner. This was the first time Stevenage had led since the fortieth minute and it was cruel luck on UCD.
In truth however, the League One side closed out the game very well and looked more likely to score in the last three minutes. Connolly allowed for barely twenty seconds of stoppage time before ending the match.
Martin Russell will be happy with the way his team played after half-time and will hope that the goals scored will increase confidence in his team ahead of their trip to Drogheda on Friday night.
UCD AFC: Mark McGinley, James Kavanagh, Ciaran Nangle (Dean Clarke 80), Hugh Douglas, Tomas Boyle, Paul Corry (Paul O’Conor 45), Stephen Doyle (Jamie Smyth 45), Barry McCabe (Danny Ledwith 70), Samir Belhout (Dave McMillan 45), Gary Burke (Sean Russell 45), Tyrone McNelis (Chris Lyons 70).
Subs not used: Niall Corbet, Robbie Benson.
Stevenage FC: Steve Arnold, Miguel Dominguez, Jon Ashton (Bondz N’Gala 48), Mark Roberts (Matthew Ball 63), Darius Charles (Lee Hills 63), Anthony Grant, James Dunne (Jess Parsons 63), Felipe Morais (Robin Shroot 30), Luke Freeman, Greg Tansey, Marcus Haber (Patrick Agyemang 63).Sub not used: Chris Day.
Referee: Mr. T. Connolly (Dublin).
UCDSoccer.com Man of the Match: Robin Shroot (Stevenage).