FAGAN’S PICKS IBV’S POCKET
Saints take slender lead to Iceland
St Pat’s Ath………………… 1
by DAIRE WALSH
ST PATRICK’S Athletic head to Iceland next week with the slenderest of leads after last night’s deserved victory over IBV in the first leg of their Europa League clash.
The Saints overcame the same opposition at this stage last year and, based on their performance in this tie, they are in a good position to progress once again.
Ian Bermingham was the sole survivor for Pat’s from their 2-0 home victory 12 months ago.
In that time, Liam Buckley has replaced Pete Mahon as Saints supremo, and he has certainly made a telling impact in his second managerial spell with the Inchicore outfit.
They currently occupy second place in the Premier Division, and have a massive match against Shamrock Rovers on Sunday to look forward to.
Confidence was high ahead of the visit of IBV, and the hosts started the game in good spirits.
Sean O’Connor showed good initiative seven minutes in by driving forward from the middle of the park, before unleashing a crisp strike from 25 yards that was deflected past the left-hand post.
Buckley’s men did have a major let-off with 12 minutes gone, though, when Christian Olsen chipped over advancing Pat’s custodian Brendan Clarke, only to see his delicate lob crash off the crossbar.
This served as a sharp indicator of what Magnus Gylfason’s side were capable of. Pat’s stepped up the tempo and O’Connor forced a fine save from IBV netminder Abel Dhaira.
Equally, the Saints rearguard had to be on their toes to divert a Brynjar Gauti Gudjonsson header away.
IBV would continue to cause problems, but the Pat’s threat was beginning to grow as the half wore
Kenny Browne went close to giving his side the lead when he headed just over from a Darren Meenan corner with nine first-half minutes left.
The home support didn’t have long to wait for the goal, however, as Christy Fagan finished coolly from close-range three minutes later.
Excellent approach work by Meenan and James Chambers opened up the space for Ger O’Brien to deliver a pin-point cross from the right-wing – and Fagan duly obliged.
The hosts were unfortunate not to be awarded a penalty after 42 minutes when Thorarinn Valdimarsson appeared to handle inside the box.
The Saints’ chances did take a slight dent just three minutes after the break when Fagan had to be
withdrawn from the action due to an injury sustained before the break.
Fagan’s replacement, the lively Dean Kelly, made a bright impression in his role as the lone front man.
Buckley introduced recent recruit Anto Flood for the impressive Sean O’Connor on 86 minutes and Pat’s saw out the victory.
After the match, the Saints boss said: “I’m delighted to win the game. We had two objectives yesterday.
“One was to keep a clean sheet, and the other was to try and win the game. We’ve done both.
“That said, our passing at times was a bit sloppy. We can improve.”
ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC: Clarke 7; O’Brien 7, Kenna 7, Browne 7, Bermingham 7; Chambers 7; O’Connor 8 (Flood 86), Bolger 7, Russell 7, Meenan 7; Fagan 7 (D Kelly 48, 6). Subs not used: Murphy, Carroll, Flynn, Price, J Kelly.
IBV: Dhaira 7; Baldock 6, Christiansen 6, Gudjonsson 7, Garner 6; Valdimarsson 6, Thórarinsson 6, Mawejje 7 (Ólafsson 83); Jeffs 6 (Thorvardarson 90), Gudmundsson 6, Olsen 6 (Spear 43, 6). Subs not used: Sigurjónsson, Borgthórsson, Gudmundsson, Leosson.
REFEREE: Igor Satchi (Moldova).