by Shane Callaghan
Drogheda United extended their four-game losing streak as late goals from Robbie Benson and Cillian Morrison helped UCD to a dramatic 2-1 win at the Belfield Bowl tonight.
United had looked on course to usher in the summer months with a valuable three points as Gary O’Neill’s first-half strike had set the Boynesiders up for their first Airtricity League victory since beating Athlone Town on April 4.
However, quick-fire strikes from Benson and Morrison in the closing 12 minutes stunned their Louth counterparts as Robbie Horgan’s men now sit six top-flight games without a win.
Horgan elected to field an unchanged side to the team that lost 3-2 at home to Shamrock Rovers last week, as O’Neill and Declan O’Brien continued to lead the line for the Boynesiders.
The hosts started much the better of both sides and would have gone ahead if not for the intervention of goalkeeper Dave Ryan, who expertly tipped Robbie Benson’s goal-bound effort past the post after 15 minutes.
Drogheda absorbed sustained periods of pressure from their Dublin counterparts before taking the lead through O’Neill, who smashed home from outside the area just after the half-hour mark.
Samir Belhout could, and perhaps should, have leveled matters just minutes later but his close-range volley was saved by Ryan.
Horgan’s troops came within the width of the woodwork from doubling their advantage, as O’Brien saw his shot cannon off the post seven minutes after the restart.
The Dubliners spurned a host of good opportunities to equalise, before Benson found the elusive leveler on 78 minutes.
Buoyed by the equaliser, UCD went in search of a winner and found one minutes later through Morrison, who headed home a Robbie Creevy cross to snatch all three points for his team and compound United’s woes in the process.
by Robert O'Reilly
Drogheda United will complete the opening set of league fixtures when they travel to the UCD Bowl to face UCD, kick-off 7.45pm.
United will be looking to end a rotten run of four consecutive defeats despite a spirited performance in the 3-2 reversal against Shamrock Rovers last Friday.
The injured pair of Eric Foley and Michéal Schlingermann will be missing for the visitors. Foley may be available for next Monday’s EA Sports Cup clash against Shamrock Rovers but there is no timetable on Schlingermann’s return from a quad injury sustained on the opening night of the season.
Despite an impressive result away to Derry last week, UCD are second from bottom in the table. A victory on Friday will see the Students cut the gap to Drogheda in eight place to a single point as the league starts to take shape.
There was nothing to separate the sides in the corresponding fixture last season as goals from Dean Clarke and James Kavanagh were canceled out by a Declan O’Brien brace in a 2-2 draw.
Speaking on Thursday, Drogheda United manager Robbie Horgan emphasised the need for his side to have greater concentration during games if they are to get back to winning ways.
“The performance against Shamrock Rovers was encouraging despite the result. We deserved something out of the game but it wasn’t meant to be. I would have taken an ugly win rather than a good performance but our aim now is to stop the rot starting with UCD. We need to become more ruthless at the back, we keep switching off and that has been a problem all season.
“I think UCD have had a good start to the season considering Aaron Callaghan came in very late. With that being said, their form has been similar to our own of late, one point in five games. The table is now starting to take shape with the top five teams pulling away and we want to finish as high as possible in the other mini-league.
“While our upcoming fixtures may not seem as difficult as our last four or five, anything can happen in this league on any given day. Obviously people will have their own expectations about UCD but we had somebody watch them last week up in Derry where they were very impressive so it’s going to be a tough game.”
Samir Belhout (Gary Burke 92’)
Stephen Maher (Paul Crowley 23’)
Cathal Brady (Carl Walshe 82’)
Declan O’Brien (Philly Hughes 75’)
Robbie Benson 78’
Cillian Morrison 83’
Gary O’Neill 31’
Alan McNally (yellow) 34’
Michael Daly (yellow) 53’
Ciarán McGuigan (yellow) 55’
Paul Crowley (yellow) 74’