By Jim MacArdle
Although the final scoreline seems decisive in favour of Dundalk, this match was well contested by the Drogs all throughout and but from some bad luck in front of goal, they deserved at least a point from the match.
Due to the condition of the pitch at United Park, this match was switched to Oriel Park and kicked off in bright sunshine. In the early stages, Dundalk seemed to have the advantage, moving the ball quickly to a strong-running front two, but the Drogs’ tackling was strong and decisive and with about 15 minutes gone they were starting to find their feet in the game and forced a few frees in good positions.
On 20 minutes, McCarthy got down well to save a dangerous Dundalk attack. The Drogs continued to press the home defence and on 28 minutes Josh Wall shot over from a good position, but four minutes later the home side were awarded a free on the edge of the box and took the lead with a brilliantly-struck curling free kick into the corner of the net.
The Drogs went in 1-0 down at half time in good heart and from the restart pressed forward and 9 minutes into the second half striker Francis Campbell appeared to be fouled in the penalty area and the referee inexplicably awarded a free out. On 58 minutes, Campbell got possession just outside the box, made space for himself and shot just over the bar.
As the second half progressed and the drizzle fell, the game started to open up and chances came for both sides and the Drogs defended well and created a number of chances which unfortunately didn’t bear fruit and Dundalk added to their lead on 62minutes. Thereafter, the Drogs pressed forward and despite great chances failed to get the ball over the Dundalk line.
This was a good competitive match played in a good spirit by both teams. The Drogs can take great heart from this performance in that they matched the home side in physicality and skill, and with the roll-on roll off method of substitution every member of the squad showed great ability and commitment.
Team: Jack McCarthy, Aaron Murphy, Nick Pavlov, Craig Gray, John McDonagh, Michael Burns, Michael Hilliard, Luke Caffrey, Francis Campbell, Josh Wall, Tadgh Connolly.
Subs (roll on, roll off): Antonio Ignet, Owen Murray, Ruari Kinsella, Sean Buchanan, Michael Ledon, Jack Crowe