by Robert O'Reilly
A stunning late free kick from Sean Thornton was enough for ten man Drogheda United to rescue a point at home to Limerick.
Drogheda were reduced to ten men on the half hour mark when Alan Byrne was deemed to have fouled Paul O’Conor in the box with Turner converting the subsequent penalty but the home side’s late pressure was eventually rewarded when Thornton struck from 22 yards.
Johnny McDonnell made two changes from the eleven that lost to Galway United on Friday as Mick Daly and Daryl Kavanagh came in for Lloyd Buckley and Tiarnan Mulvenna while both Byrne and Cathal Brady overcame knocks to start.
An early long ball from the hosts caused havoc in the Limerick defence as goalkeeper Conor O’Donnell raced out from his area but he failed to clear his lines following a collision with Aidan Price though Cathal Brady was unable to get his shot away in time.
Drogheda looked uneasy defensively and a misplaced header in the penalty area fell the way of O’Conor but the former Drogheda man failed to hit the target and then Robbie Williams was afforded too much room in the box though Micheál Schlingermann was equal to his header.
The major talking point of the game cam on 30 minutes when Byrne was deemed to have fouled O’Conor and in the process denying a clear goal scoring opportunity, despite the midfielder going away from gaoll, and Turner sent the Drogheda goalkeeper the wrong way.
The hosts made light of their numerical disadvantage as first Neil Yadolahi and then Daly were denied by outstanding saves from O’Donnell as he preserved Limerick’s lead at the interval.
While Limerick enjoyed the majority of possession in the early stages of the second half, it was the hosts who were creating the better chances and Kavanagh will be disappointed he didn’t do better as he diverted Cathal Brady’s whipped cross over the bar.
The Drogheda striker was in the action again on 65 minutes as he ran purposefully into the Limerick box before going down under a clumsy tackle from Price though referee Ray Matthews surprised everyone by booking Kavanagh for simulation.
Limerick seemed content to sit deep and look to catch United on the break and that tactic almost paid dividends on 70 minutes when Schlingermann was forced to produce a fine save to stop Dean Clarke’s goal bound strike.
Drogheda were finally rewarded for their pressure on 84 minutes when Sean Brennan was fouled 22 yards out from goal and former Sunderland man Thronton curled the ball into the top corner much to the delight of the United Park faithful.
United ended the game with nine men as Thornton was forced off through injury with all three substitutions having been made but they hung on for a well deserved point.
Up next for 5th place Drogheda is a trip to the Brandywell to face Derry City on Friday.
by Robert O'Reilly
Date of Issue 23.3.15
By Robert O’Reilly
Drogheda United Team News v Limerick
Drogheda United will be looking to return to winning ways tomorrow night when they host Limerick at United Park, kick-off 7.45pm.
The Drogs fine start to the season came to a halt last Friday against Galway United as they were undone by an early Enda Curran strike and despite Galway being reduced to ten men in the first half, Drogheda were unable to find a breakthrough much to manager Johnny McDonnell’s frustration.
‘It was disappointing not to get something out of the game,’ McDonnell stated. ‘I felt we did enough to get at least a point and to concede early was obviously a huge set back but we had a lot of time to get back in it. We created several good chances but we just couldn’t break Galway down. The red card really disrupted the flow of the game but we should have been able to take advantage.’
It was the second game running that United had fallen behind in the opening stages of the match, something that McDonnell is eager to eradicate quickly.
‘It’s something that we need to keep an eye on because you don’t want to leave yourself with too much to do. I’d be very confident about the season ahead if we can stop conceding some of the soft goals because we look very good going forward and Daryl Kavanagh coming back will certainly lift us.’
While it may be too early to look at the league table with only three games into the season, Drogheda do have a five-point advantage over Limerick but McDonnell is anticipating a tight encounter with Martin Russell’s side.
‘I think it will be a similar game to Galway, there probably won’t be many goal scoring chances so it all depends on who takes theirs when they come along. I’m sure Limerick will be buoyed by picking up their first point of the season at the weekend and we certainly won’t underestimate them.’
Drogheda have several injury doubts going into the game with Cathal Brady (hip), Alan Byrne (quad), Mick Daly (calf) and Daryl Kavanagh (flu) all to be assessed at training tonight.
Neil Yadolahi (Mark Hughes 55)
Sean Thornton (Carl Walshe 83)
Jason Marks (Lee Duffy 72)
Jason Hughes(Vinny Faherty 88)
Sean Thornton 84
Ian Turner 30
Neil Yadolahi 11
Alan Byrne (red) 30
Daryl Kavanagh 65
Sean Brennan 75