PAT’S MAKE NET BOLGE’
St Pat’s Athletic 1 Shelbourne 0
DAIRE WALSH reports
A NINTH-MINUTE header from Greg Bolger proved decisive in Richmond Park last night, as St Patrick’s Athletic maintained the pace on Sligo Rovers at the top of the Airtricity Premier Division.
The opening moments of the game had been relatively low-key as both sides were looking to keep things tight and compact in the middle-third of the pitch.
However, Darren Meenan was able to find space on the right-wing nine minutes in, and he provided a pin-point cross for Greg Bolger to find the net with a looping header over stranded Shels netminder Dean Delany.
Having gone behind early on to Bohs in the same venue last week, this was the kind of positive start to the game that Liam Buckley’s challengers would have been hoping for.
Indeed, Pat’s went extremely close to adding to their advantage five minutes later when Bolger and Christy Fagan combined brilliantly just outside the area, but the latter’s subsequent strike was turned away from the danger by the feet of Delany.
Pat’s did have the ball in the Shels net for a second time just past the half-hour mark when Delany knocked a Christopher Forrester delivery from the by-line into his own net, but the goal was ruled out as the ball had gone past the line before the pacy winger’s cross.
Another goal here would have made life very difficult for the Tolka Park outfit, and there was still every chance that they could force their way back into the tie.
In the blink of an eye, the game almost took the most dramatic of turns when Hughes rose majestically to meet David Cassidy’s cross from the right flank on 68 minutes, but he was desperately unlucky to see his header crashing off the crossbar and away to safety.
Luck was certainly on the side of The Saints in this instance, but it nevertheless served as a firm indicator that this game was far from over just yet.
Pat’s did manage to increase the tempo and the excellent Meenan got through on the right-hand side as the game entered into the final ten minutes, but Delany was more than equal to his strike from a tight angle.
ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC: Clarke 7; O’Brien 7, Kenna 7, Browne 7, Bermingham 7; Bolger 7, Chambers 7, Meenan 8; Forrester 7 (Carroll 46, 6), Fagan 7, Kelly 7. Subs not used: Daly, O’Connor, Murphy, Price, Flynn, Coombes.
SHELBOURNE: Delany 7; Ryan 6 (Matthews 23, 6), Paisley 7, Shortall 7, Clancy 6; C Byrne 6, Dawson 7, Cassidy 7, Kavanagh 6; Hughes 7, P Byrne 6 (S Byrne 46, 6). Subs not used: Boyle, McGill, Skinner, Hurley, Gorman.
REFEREE: Anthony Buttimer (Cork).
WEATHER: Warm And Breezy.
ATTENDANCE: 1, 570.
ENTERTAINMENT: Scrappy but competitive.