herald

Wednesday 16 October 2019

Lilies go top of the tree

Bohemians 0 Dundalk 2

Georgie Kelly celebrates after putting Dundalk ahead against Bohs
Georgie Kelly celebrates after putting Dundalk ahead against Bohs

Back-to-back defeats for Bohemians have left the League of Ireland with a familiar leader.

For the first time this season, Dundalk are top of the tree.

And this savvy showing suggests that Vinny Perth's team are hitting a level of intensity that could keep them there.

The champions had fallen 13 points behind Shamrock Rovers on April 12, albeit with two fewer games played.

With Rovers out of action this weekend after three losses in their last four, Perth's charges came here knowing that a win would put them top on goal difference with the same number of games played.

They seized the opportunity with ominous intent.

An undeserved win against a young Bohs team at Oriel Park was the catalyst for the Lilywhites' return to form, but there was no debate about who was superior here.

Dundalk were tuned in, and determined to atone for a sloppy draw with Derry seven days earlier when they gave away a two-goal lead in the final quarter.

They managed to play the majority of the opening half hour in Bohs territory, with Patrick McEleney taking up some good positions and wingers Michael Duffy and Daniel Kelly putting pressure on the Bohs full-backs.

The unknown was through the middle, with Patrick Hoban's dismissal against Derry City opening the door for Georgie Kelly to make his first league start for the club since joining from UCD last summer.

And the understudy took the opportunity to shine by giving the visitors the half-time lead that they deserved.

The goal was initially all about the chaos that Duffy can pose when in full tilt, with Derek Pender struggling to contain the Derry man. And with the Bohs rearguard out of shape, his attempted tackle sent the ball into the box, where Kelly collected and swivelled to fire a right-footer past James Talbot.

It was the first goal that Bohs had conceded from play this term.

The natives were aggrieved with some refereeing decisions prior to that, feeling that Dean Jarvis had escaped unpunished for a handball.

Subdued

Bohs were struggling to make real inroads with Danny Mandroiu subdued by Chris Shields in the early stages.

However, the playmaker became prominent close to half-time, sending a free-kick narrowly wide after a foul by Shields.

He then should have squared things up, but his shot, from Darragh Leahy's cutback, was weak and Gary Rogers palmed it to safety.

Dundalk had consistently threatened to create chances of similar quality without doing so as the Bohs defence defended bravely.

However, the home side continued to give the ball away under pressure, inviting more trouble.

This was the pattern after the restart with injury ending Pender's evening. The promising Andy Lyons was tasked with shackling the influential Duffy.

There were half-chances on the counter, but Bohs were ponderous in some decent positions and outmuscled by the streetwise opposition.

They looked dead and buried when ref Ben Connolly pointed to the spot after sub Luke Wade pulled down Duffy but with regular taker Hoban absent, Shields' effort was pushed away by Talbot.

It briefly lifted the spirits of the sold out home section in a 3,535 crowd.

Yet the joy was short-lived as Sean Hoare rose highest to convert Duffy's free and send Dundalk back to the summit.

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