Ten-man Students fail stiff test set by quality of Gypsies
GONE in 30 seconds -- that was the fate of UCD as Bohemians showed just why they are reigning champions by coming from behind to nick a win in less than a minute away to the Students with some clinical finishing from substitutes Jason Byrne and Raff Cretaro.
They left it late in Belfield, but Bohs boss Pat Fenlon wants more time for his side to really settle into their stride as they aim to win the league for the third successive time.
"I think sometimes people expect too much. Because we have decent players and have won the league, people expect us to steamroll over teams but it doesn't happen like that," Fenlon said after Bohs came from a goal down to win 2-1 away to a 10-man UCD side last night.
"It's still early in the season. As long as I have been in the league the matches at the start of the year are always tight.
"We're still a work in progress. I don't think as a manager you're ever satisfied, you always want to do better; we had games last season where we didn't play well but still won."
Events across the city in Tallaght bore mixed feelings for Bohs supporters, who were glad to sea Shamrock Rovers -- their main rivals for the title last season -- lose, though that result, a 2-0 win for Pats, means that Saints are today top of the table, ahead of Bohs on goal difference.
And many among the Gypsies support headed back across the northside last night feeling fortunate to have nabbed all three points.
Bohs went a goal down 11 minutes into the second half, and even though UCD were reduced to 10 men following the sending off of Greg Bolger, it took the away side until the 81st minute to get into the game with that stunning double blast within the space of a minute.
The first half, played on a dreadful pitch at the UCD Bowl, was instantly forgettable, a Billy Brennan save from Bohs man Mark Quigley the only relief from the boredom, but the game burst into life on 56 minutes.
Mounting their first real attack, UCD forward Ciaran Kilduff chased down a Chris Mulhall past and burst into the box, where he was hauled down by Bohs keeper Chris O'Connor. Referee Tommy Connolly punished O'Connor with a penalty kick, though not a yellow card. Greg Bolger converted the spot kick and UCD fans, still on a high from last week's 3-0 win at Drogheda on the opening day of the season, began chants about being top of the league.
Defender Bolger was the centre of attention for the wrong reasons on 67 minutes when he was sent off for a second bookable offence after kicking the ball away, though UCD would later claim he was passing it to his opponent.
UCD held on for as long as they could but the sight of subs Byrne and Cretaro being summoned from the bench was surely a bad omen. Byrne and Cretaro scored 46 goals between them last season (Cretaro with Sligo) and they made a stunning double act last night. Byrne got Bohs level after being set up by Cretaro and Glen Cronin, while within 30 seconds of the restart, Cretaro had Bohs in front with a clever run and finish past Brennan.
UCD manager Martin Russell admitted that his young side's lack of experience showed last night. "We didn't have any control over the game, and it wasn't good enough," he said.
UCD now face a stiff test against leaders St Pats on Friday night, while Bohs have fitness worries over Brian Shelley and Stephen Gray for their game away to Drogheda.