herald

Friday 24 May 2019

Mcfaul hero as pats bite Drogs

IT MAY have been more of a PR exercise than a proper scouting mission and Giovanni Trapattoni's trip to Richmond Park didn't unearth any gems as he took in the St Patrick's Athletic-Drogheda United league clash last night.

But that's of little concern to Pats fans today as they have gone joint top of the Premier Division table thanks to this 1-0 win, secured through a second-half goal from sub Shane McFaul, the Dubliner who has just re-joined Pats after a spell in Finnish football.

After drawing a blank in the first two competitive games of the season it was a big deal for Pats to earn this win.

Heavy

A heavy pitch didn't lend itself to champagne football but Pats, with quality ball players like Conan Byrne, Killian Brennan and Chris Fagan in the side, worked and worked, finally chipping away at a sturdy Drogheda side with McFaul's goal from a set piece in the second half.

McFaul, who played U21 football for Ireland in the same side as current internationals like Darren Randolph and Darren O'Dea, is hungry for success with the Saints after experiencing relegation with his club in Finland last season, and with more wins like this, Pats can make a title push this term.

The boggy pitch at Richmond Park – there was a pitch inspection needed before the tie got the go-ahead – didn't help Pats and their passing game, but they did manage to create quite a bit, especially in the first half.

U21 cap Christopher Forrester, hoping to catch the eye of senior boss Trapattoni, got a header on the end of a Conan Byrne cross in the fourth minute, and not long after that Killian Brennan, playing his hometown club who had two of his brothers in their starting XI, saw his shot saved by Gabriel Sava. One of his siblings, Gavin, had a chance on 28 minutes but in his attempts to get to the ball he had fouled Conor Kenna.

United struggled to create after that but so did the home side as the life went out of this tie for long periods, until sub McFaul broke the deadlock on 65 minutes.

A Conan Byrne corner kick started it all as Kenny Browne's effort from Byrne's corner was deflected out to McFaul and the former Ireland U21 cap blasted a shot through a pack of bodies and past Sava.

Three minutes later Fagan should have doubled the lead for the Saints after he was set up by Byrne, but he wasted his effort.

Sava, the Romanian-born, Italian-raised keeper in the United side, was still a busy man and he pulled off a top-class save to deny Brennan five minutes from time.

Trapattoni had left by that stage, having seen enough, but the Saints support were on their feet at the final whistle to acclaim this win, which sets them up nicely for a clash with rivals Shamrock Rovers next Friday night.

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