Thursday 18 January 2018

Saints suffer curse of the draw

Conan Byrne and Ciaran Kilduff
Conan Byrne and Ciaran Kilduff

AN Inability to win a league title in his spell as St Patrick's Athletic manager was a great frustration for John McDonnell.

The veteran old boss was at the centre of more Inchicore frustration last night as his Drogheda United side held Pats to a 2-2 draw, a deserved point for the hard-working Drogheda boys who took a shock lead in the first half and then clawed back a 2-1 deficit to nick a point with a late penalty.

There were no boos from the home fans at the final whistle but after a third draw in four games, there is a concern that St Pat's could well be left behind as Dundalk and the chasing pack of Cork City and Shamrock Rovers will pull away.

Drogheda came to Inchicore, the old stomping ground of their very vocal manager, on the back of a four-game losing streak, and few would have forgiven McDonnell for parking the bus at Richmond Park. From early on it looked as if the away side would struggle, as Pats played keep-ball in the Drogheda half early on with a warning shot when Christopher Forrester struck the crossbar on 25 minutes.

But then Drogheda burst into life: Jason Marks was just wide with a shot after Daryl Kavanagh bravely won the ball on 29 minutes, two minutes later Kavanagh himself went close, and on 33 minutes Drogheda went into a lead which really caught the home fans on the hop.

Marks floated in a corner kick and defender Llyod Buckley, in his first season of senior football, was left unmarked, to score his second goal in two games. Pats managed to draw level just before the break when Conan Byrne connected at the far post with Ian Bermingham's cross.

Saints fans, aware at the half-time break that rivals Dundalk, Cork Cork and Shamrock Rovers were all ahead in their games, demanded better from their side.

But they had to wait until the hour mark for Kilduff to pop up with the lead goal, the big striker netting his second for the club from close range after United's defence failed to clear.

Kilduff - twice - and Killian Brennan had chances to add a third goal for Pats but they were off-target, and the misses came back to haunt them nine minutes from time when Drogheda drew level.

Defender Lee Desmond - only back in the side after suspension - fouled ex-Saint Kavanagh in the box, ref Robert Harvey awarded a penalty and sub Lee Duffy showed no nerves as he stroked the spot kick past Conor O'Malley. Subs Morgan Langley and Jamie McGrath threatened, but failed, to deliver a late goal as the Saints had to settle for a point.


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