by Robert O'Reilly
UCD picked a vital point in their battle against relegation as they came from behind to draw 1-1 with Drogheda United at Hunky Dorys Park.
Peter Hynes broke the deadlock for United on eleven minutes before Robbie Benson levelled with a smart finish as both sides cancelled each other out in the second half.
Drogheda manager Mick Cooke made four changes from the side that defeated Dundalk in the semi-final of the Ford FAI Cup last Sunday as Gabriel Sava, Phillip Hand, Graham Rusk and Peter Hynes were named in the starting eleven while Conor O’Donnell replaced Ger Barron in goal for the students.
Drogheda had an early penalty shout after only three minutes as Hynes’ cross found Gavin Brennan at the backpost but his effort was deflected wide by the arm of Mark Langtry and the Maltese official only awarded a corner.
The home side’s bright start was rewarded on eleven minutes as Gavin Brennan and Hynes reversed roles as Brennan picked out the striker and he headed beyond the helpless Conor O’Donnell in goal.
Sean Russell almost drew UCD level but his free-kick from 20 yards was brilliantly saved by Gabriel Sava from which Drogheda broke on the counter attack and Ryan Brennan picked out his brother Gavin who crossed for Hynes but his audacious flick rolled narrowly wide.
The students were denied by the frame of the goal with a half an hour played as Craig Walsh’s spectacular attempt crashed off the outside and the post with Sava beaten.
UCD deservedly levelled a couple of minutes later as striker Robbie Benson evaded the challenge of three Drogheda players to fire high into the roof of the net.
Drogheda started the second half in determined fashion and they almost regained the lead as Hynes’ cross found Graham Rusk and the winger passed to Ryan Brennan but his poor first touch gave O’Donnell the chance to smother the ball out of play and from the resulting corner Hynes saw his header clip the bar before being diverted wide.
The second half was a tighter affair than the first as both sides struggled to create chances with Drogheda dominating possession while the students looked threatening on the break.
United almost stole it with ten minutes left as Alan McNally’s delivery from the right was headed downwards by Alan Byrne but O’Donnell denied the defender.
The Drogs were once again frustrated in additional time as Michael Daly’s cross from the right found Gavin Brennan but his goal bound effort was blocked by Mark Langtry as both sides had to settle for a point.
The result means Drogheda have now gone six games without a win in the league while the students still need a point to guarantee their premier division status for next year.
Alan McNally ©
Shane Grimes (Eric Foley 55’)
Peter Hynes (Declan O’Brien 73’)
Mick Leahy ©
Craig Walsh (Samir Belhout 74’)
Peter Hynes 11’
Robbie Benson 33’