A controversial last minute penalty from Killian Brennan gave St Patrick’s Athletic a 2-1 win in a dramatic finale at Hunky Dorys Park.
Ryan Brennan had thought he had stolen the headlines with an acrobatic volley in the 90th minute after Christy Fagan had given St Pats the lead ten minutes earlier, only for brother Killian to settle it with virtually the last kick of the game.
Mick Cooke made four changes from Friday’s stalemate with Bohemians as Stephen Quigley, Alan Byrne, Ryan Brennan and Declan O’Brien came into the side while St. Pats named an unchanged eleven following their impressive victory away to Cork.
United almost had a similar sensational start as they did against Bohemians as a counter attack in the second minute between Ryan Brennan and Declan O’Brien saw Graham Rusk cross for Gavin Brennan who diverted the ball wide.
St Pats were almost gifted the lead on five minutes as Quigley, under pressure from Chris Forrester, under hit a back pass which was intercepted by Anto Flood only for Gabriel Sava to pounce form his goal to deny the striker.
It was all St. Pat from the early stages and they created a good opening as David Cassidy lost possession in midfield and Killian Brennan picked out John Russell on the right whose cross was fired over the bar by Conan Byrne.
The Inchicore side should have gone in front on 33 as Kenny Browne met Russell’s free kick and with Sava stranded, David Cassidy was there to clear the ball off the line.
A more direct team than last year, St. Pats threatened from set pieces and again they somehow missed the target as Sava flapped from a corner but Conor Kenna could only head onto the roof of the net with Drogheda relieved to go into the interval on level terms.
The Drogs grew into the game as the second half progressed and they were awarded a penalty on 70 minutes as Killian Brennan attempted to control a cross from his brother Gavin only for the ball to bounce up and strike him on the arm. Declan O’Brien stepped up but he dragged the spot kick wide, his third miss from twelve yards this season.
It appeared as though that miss would prove costly as Pats finally opened the scoring ten minutes later, a deflected shot eventually found its way to Ger O’Brien on the wing and his drilled cross found Christy Fagan at the back post for a simple finish.
Drogheda responded well by piling on the pressure and a long punt into the box was dropped by Saints keeper Brendan Clarke only for an overhead kick by substitute Peter Hynes to be blocked by what appeared to be the hand of Aiden Price.
United ultimately equalised and it came in spectacular fashion. A long throw into the box from Byrne found its way to Quigley at the edge of the box and his knock on was fired high into the net by Ryan Brennan, the midfielders third league goal of the season.
With time seemingly up, St. Pats launched one more attack as Ger O’Brien sent in a hopeful cross into the penalty area that was controlled by Fagan with the use of his hand only for referee Tomas Connolly to inexplicably award the visitors a penalty.
Despite guessing the right way, Sava was helpless as Killian Brennan stole all three points for Liam Buckley’s men.
Drogheda will have the perfect opportunity to pick themselves up as they play Shamrock Rovers in the Setanta Cup Final in Tallaght on Saturday.
Drogheda United Team: Gabriel Sava, Stephen Quigley, Alan Byrne, Derek Prendergast ©, Shane Grimes, Graham Rusk (Cathal Brady 77), Ryan Brennan, Michael Daly, David Cassidy, Gavin Brennan, Declan O’Brien (Peter Hynes 79).
Substitutes Not Used: Micheal Schlingermann, Philip Hand, Brian Gannon, Eric Foley.
Booked: Ryan Brennan, David Cassidy, Alan Byrne, Derek Prendergast.
St. Patricks Athletic Team: Brendan Clarke, Ger O’Brien, Connor Kenna ©, Kenny Browne (Aiden Price 46), Ian Bermingham, Greg Bolger, John Russell, Killian Brennan, Conan Byrne (Jake Kelly 64), Chris Forrester, Anto Flood (Christy Fagan 76).
Sunstitutes Not Used: Dave Ryan, Sean Gannon, Jake Carroll, Conor Murphy.
Booked: Anto Flood
Referee: Tomas Connolly
Droghedaunited.ie Man of the Match: Ryan Brennan