herald

Thursday 14 November 2019

Europe bound

St Patrick's Ath 0 Bohemians 0

Bohemians players celebrate gaining the point needed to make it into the Europa League qualifying rounds
Bohemians players celebrate gaining the point needed to make it into the Europa League qualifying rounds

The final part of their journey was anything but memorable, however, Bohemians will still celebrate the fact that their long exile from European football is over.

A point was needed from their final two games of the season and while a 0-0 draw away to St Patrick's Athletic last night came with more graft than craft, Bohs playing for a third of the game with ten men, the point was made. The Gypsies are back on the European stage for the first time since 2012.

It was fortunate for Keith Long's side that a draw would do as they never came close to winning this game. Pat's, dominant for long spells, were let down by their awful record in front of goal as only relegated UCD have scored fewer goals than the Saints' tally of 26.

As he plans to rebuild for next season, Pat's manager Stephen O'Donnell will be encouraged by what he saw from his side last night, in particular the form of Chris Forrester, a player who has not made the required impact this season.

However, he was the best player on the park last night, though it's also a concern for O'Donnell that his side are now on a run of four games without a goal.

The Bohs supporters, expecting to celebrate the result which would put their side back in Europe, brought beach balls to pass around, but there wasn't too much for them to enthuse over during the game.

A scrappy first half did have plenty of disciplinary business (six yellow cards) but no goals. 

The away side had started well with something of a flurry of activity, but Pat's gained control of the game for a long spell, yet the Saints were unable to conjure up much in the way of goal threats.

Pat's had a chance on 20 minutes when they were awarded a free-kick for James Finnerty's foul on Ronan Hale but James Talbot dealt with Forrester's effort.

It took Bohs until the 38th minute to pose a threat, Danny Grant's shot wide of the target, but Pat's came closest to scoring three minutes before half-time, a superb move and shot from ex-Bohs man Forrester forcing a finger-tip save from Talbot.

Bohs struggled to keep possession long enough to force Brendan Clarke into some work on a quiet night for the Saints keeper; Pat's were firmly in control for long spells, Hale unlucky not to score on 59 minutes.

Keith Long's side had to play the final half hour with ten men as defender James Finnerty was shown a second yellow card for a needless foul on Gary Shaw.

The same pattern followed, possession and chances for Pat's but no final product, Cian Coleman coming close on 71 minutes.

Sensing that the home side was now on the ropes, O'Donnell looked to his bench and went for the win, bringing on forwards Mikey Drennan and Glen McAuley for defenders Dave Webster and Ciaran Kelly.

Even in added time there was more pressure from the home side, and Bohs needed captain Derek Pender, possibly playing his final season, to come up with a block on the line to deny sub Rhys McCabe.

The final whistle was greeted with deep relief by the away side though it promoted a pitch invasion from the travelling Bohemians fans, which will earn the club a fine.

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