Wednesday 23 January 2019

Fagan on double to beat bohs

Gypsies make Saints work for place in semis

RETAINING their league title might be a bridge too far, but St Patrick's Athletic can still get their hands on a trophy this season as their FAI Cup dream remains very much on track after they moved into the semi-finals at the expense of Bohemians.

And this season-ending defeat for the Gypsies was made even more painful by the fact that it was two ex-Bohs players, Chris Fagan and Killian Brennan, who scored the goals which earned a 3-2 win in a thrilling cup tie for St Pat's.

But what should have been a comfortable passage into the last four for the Saints - they were firmly in control with a two-goal lead with 32 minutes to play - was very nervy towards the end, the dismissal of Pat's midfielder Greg Bolger giving Bohs respite.

Home fans in the crowd of 2,158 prayed for and needed some saves from keeper Brendan Clarke late on as Bohs pressed for an equaliser, after a late goal from ex-Saint Aidan Price got then back into the game.

Yet Pat's held firm and it turned out to be a very good night for the Inchicore club as Cup rivals Shamrock Rovers, Dundalk, Derry City and Drogheda United all face energy-sapping replays early next week after their quarter-final ties last night ended in draws.

St Pat's boss Liam Buckley can enjoy some respite next week as his counterparts like Pat Fenlon and Stephen Kenny have to prepare their teams for another battle.

Yet it was an expensive win for Buckley's outfit as influential midfielder Greg Bolger was sent off in the second half so he'll miss the Saints' visit to Bray next week.

This cup tie was slow enough to ignite as the two clubs sized each other up but it burst into life in the space of a couple of minutes.

With 20 minutes on the clock, Bohs went into the lead through a very unlikely source. Eoin Wearen put Kevin Devaney into space, the winger slid the ball through to defender Derek Pender and he showed the poise of a striker to finish past Clarke to claim his first goal of the season.

But the lead lasted just three minutes as Pat's drew level, thanks to a pair of ex-Bohs players. Brennan lobbed in a high free kick which Bohs were unable to clear and Fagan bundled the ball over the line for his 20th goal of the season.

Shocked by the concession of that lead goal, Pat's upped their game and took the initiative. Price did well to cut out Fagan on 24 minutes, three minutes later keeper Dean Delany pulled off a fine save to deny Keith Fahey, and on 34 minutes Delany was needed again, this time to keep out an almost-certain goal from Mark Quigley.

The sides were level at half time but the second period belonged to the Saints. Just three minutes into the second half Pat's took the lead, Brennan calmly stroking a free-kick past Delany. And Fagan (below) claimed his second of the night, and 21st goal for the season, on 58 minutes, Fahey this time the provider as Fagan slid his shot beyond Delany's reach.

The home side's task was made more tricky on 66 minutes when Bolger, only recently back in the Pat's side after a three-game ban, was dismissed for a second bookable offence. The one-man advantage, and the input from sub Paddy Kavanagh, added some much-needed bite to a Bohs side who had looked dead and buried.

Price reduced the Saints' lead to one goal when he headed home from Kevin Devaney's corner on 80 minutes but late efforts from Jason Byrne and Wearen could not work their way past Clarke in the Pat's goal.

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