By Robert O’Reilly
Drogheda United’s play-off hopes took a significant blow this evening as they lost 3-0 at home to UCD at United Park.
Sean Brennan was dismissed for two yellow cards before a Conor Davis hat-trick sealed a comfortable win for the First Division leaders.
Drogheda United manager Tim Clancy named an unchanged side from the one that lost to Waterford last week with William Hondermarck and Mark Doyle lining out either side of Chris Lyons in attack.
The visitors threatened early on and Davis should’ve done better as he curled a low strike from the edge of the box wide of the far post before Neil Farrugia missed a gilt-edged chance from only five yards out.
United gradually grew into the contest as Jake Hyland’s ambitious strike failed to trouble Conor Kearns in goal with Brennan then hitting the side netting from a set-piece on the half hour mark.
The game swung UCD’s way just before the break. Brennan, who had already been booked for dissent, dove into a late challenge leaving the referee with little option but to show him a second yellow card.
To make matters worse, the Students took the lead just seconds later as Conor McClelland’s routine delivery from the left wasn’t cleared and Davis showed great composure to steady himself before curling the ball into the far corner.
UCD had a goal disallowed just a minute into the second-half as Gary O’Neill’s delivery from the left was headed high into the top corner by Liam Scales but his celebrations were cut short due to an offside flag.
The Students all but sealed victory on 53 minutes as Davies capitalised on a loose ball in the penalty area after Paul Skinner had parried McClelland’s close range strike.
10-man Drogheda struggled to keep the visitors at bay and UCD made it three on the night as Farrugia once again got down the right before picking out Davies who made no mistake for the match ball.
A damaging defeat for the Drogs who will be back in action in a fortnight’s time when they host Longford Town in what promises to be a season defining game.
Drogheda United: Paul Skinner; Luke Gallagher, Kevin Farragher, Ciaran Kelly, Conor Kane; Richie Purdy, Jake Hyland, Sean Brennan, William Hondermarck (Gareth McCaffrey 53’); Mark Doyle (Rob Manley 61), Chris Lyons (Jordan Adeyemo 59’)
Subs: Luca Gratzer, Lloyd Buckley, Kealan Dillon, Sean Trimble
UCD: Conor Davies; Liam Scales, Josh Collins, Evan Osam, Daniel Tobin; Neil Farrugia, Jason McClelland (Kevin Coffey 90’), Gary O’Neill, Gregg Sloggett; Conor Davies (Yossuf Mahdy 90), Timmy Molloy (Daire O’Connor 90)
Subs: Gavin Sheridan, Paul Doyle, Evan Farrell, Conor Crowley