By Robert O’Reilly
Drogheda United have slipped to third in the table after they were beaten 2-1 by UCD at United Park.
Despite taking an early lead courtesy of Derek Doyle, a dire second-half performance saw UCD score twice through Gary O’Neill and Dylan Watts as the Students ended Drogheda’s seven-match unbeaten run and leapfrogged United in the process.
Drogheda started the game with purpose as they produced the first chance within the opening minute as Marc Griffin picked the ball up deep inside UCD’s half before sending a powerful shot goalwards which was parried behind by Niall Corbett.
In an open encounter, the Students were next to try their luck with Ryan Swan going close on two occasions. Firstly, the UCD number nine toe poked wide from the edge of the box and he then headed into the arms of Drogheda keeper Stephen McGuinness with the goal at his mercy.
The Boynesiders made those misses count on nine minutes as superb play from Sam O’Connor out wide saw the striker cut the ball back for the unmarked Doyle who made no mistake in scoring his first goal of the season.
There was a brightness to Drogheda’s play and they moved the ball through the UCD midfield at ease on 20 minutes though the move came to an end when Maxi Kouogun deflected Griffin’s strike away from goal.
UCD came close to drawing level on the half-hour mark as a miskick from Luke Gallagher played Swan through on goal but his low strike was well held by McGuinness.
The home side continued to push forward in search of a second and they squandered a glorious chance as Sean Thornton’s inch-perfect cross was met by the unmarked Griffin whose header went well wide of the target with Joe Jackson also heading over shortly after.
Drogheda remained in the ascendancy during the early stages of the second half with Aaron Ashe firing across the face of goal as he reacted quickest to a loose ball with no one at the back-post to capitalise.
it seemed as though the second goal would never arrive as Griffin, played through on goal by Aaron Molloy, was superbly denied by Corbett with O’Connor’s goal bound follow-up cleared off the line by the covering defender.
United were made to rue their missed chances on the hour mark as an overlap from Adam Harney saw the full back get goal side of Doyle who brought him down inside the area with UCD captain O’Neill sending McGuinness the wrong way from the spot.
The visitors dominated possession following the equaliser and they eventually netted the winner with five minutes to play as Jackson’s header lacked the power to reach McGuinness and Watts stole in to roll the ball into the empty net.
A self-inflicted defeat for Drogheda sees them suffer their third loss of the season and they will be looking to bounce back next week at home to Waterford United.
Derek Doyle (Eoin Kirwan 84)
Marc Griffin (Jake Hyland 66)
Sam O’Connor (Liam Donnelly 73)
Kieran Marty Waters (Cathal Brady 80)
Ryan Swan (Jason Byrne 64)
Dylan Watts (George Kelly 90)