Jordan’s Adeyemo’s second goal in the space of three days wasn’t enough to stop Drogheda United from falling to defeat in their third and final mid-season pre-restart friendly before they resume their First Division campaign in Tallaght in eight days time.
Whilst these fixtures are a far cry from the real business of securing promotion to the Premier Division at the third time of asking – the absence of boss Tim Clancy from the sideline signalled quite now meaningful or not this game was – they have offered the chance to fine tune tactics and selections ahead of game against Shamrock Rovers II.
The loss of Jack Tuite to injury in the first half was the biggest upset of the afternoon at United Park, despite how sickening the last gasp Dayle Rooney goal might have felt after a sprightly performance against the team from Tolka Park. With Hugh Douglas already missing, United first tried out midfielder Mark Hughes and then youngster Killian Phillips at the heart of the defence.
The last time Ian Morris has brought his team to Boyneside, they confirmed their promotion back to the top flight after a six season absence in September. His victory here came after Adeyemo’s first half penalty was cancelled out by a stunning volley from right back Eric Molloy, before Rooney’s winner.
Adeyemo, at 20-years-old and with only two senior goals to his credit, is rumoured to be attracting attention from clubs in the Football League. He followed up his goal against St Pats on Wednesday evening with a penalty on Saturday afternoon; he had himself won the spot kick having beaten Shels’ keeper Jack Brady in a foot race on the edge of the area.
The home team started better at a bereft looking United Park although Shels had the first opportunity of note. Brandon Daly found Alex Centiner, who found some space inside the area. It was enough to dispatch a shot that David Odomuso had to dive to his left to save with his outstretched arm.
Molloy, a former Wexford player who has since had spells in New Zealand and Poland, was guilty of taking his eye off the ball when he was in space from Rooney’s corner. His air kick was a let off for Drogheda who by the time the clock had ticked onto 30 minutes only had a Hughes’ free kick which was easily handed by Brady to their credit.
There had been howls of laughter from the Drogheda substitutes, socially distanced as per protocol in the main stand between the two benches, when James Brown had theatrically gone to ground in the area. The referee urged him to ‘Get up offa that thing’, but no card was forthcoming. But, moments later United did have a penalty.
Adeyemo had beaten Brady to the ball on the edge of the area and while the referee seemed nonplussed, the linesman’s flag rendered the decision made. The youngster hauled himself up to dispatch the penalty.
Karl Moore had a half chance that he slashed at as Shels pushed to equalise before the break, but the visitors were far from full strength considering anther XI had faced Linfield at Tolka a little over 15 hours earlier. Shels were better after the break and while the Drogs had a stronger bench, the mass changes – seven in total – meant half a team were feeling their way into a game that was 60 minutes old.
It could have been 2-0 when after superb work down the left by Brandon Bermingham, the winger flashed a low delivery across the six yard box. It was missed – just – by Stephen Meaney and as Adam Wixted came in at the post, an expert and timely tackle from Alex O’Hanlon denied him.
Molloy’s leveller was the moment of the match. After Shels had worked the ball well down the left, it was switched to Molloy who connected as well as he could have wished to send a volley across Odomuso and careering into the top corner. He had confidence aplenty after that, as he dashed past Prendergast only to see his cross end with the ball deflected over by Phillips.
Moments before the winner, former Dundalk FC striker Ciaran Kilduff hit an angled shot past the post. It had come after excellent work from the lively sub Rasaq Alama.
With virtually the last kick of the game, Dayle Rooney’s goal – via the post – won it. The loss, for all it means, will frustrate United. Assistant manager Kevin Doherty was berating his team’s final ball throughout. “Final ball – again! Fuck sake,” he bemoaned late on. With no crowd, there’s no hiding place now.
DROGHEDA UNITED: David Odomuso, James Brown, Jack Tuite (Luke Heeney, 24), Derek Prendergast, Conor Kane (Ryan O’Shea, 57), Mark Hughes (Killian Phillips, 46), Richie O’Farrell (Sean Brennan, 57), Jordan Adeyemo (Adam Wixted, 57), Jake Hyland (James Clarke, 57), Mark Doyle (Brandon Bermingham, 57), Stephen Meaney.
Subs: Ross Treacy, Luca Gratzer, Frank Cabraley, Kevin Mohammed.
SHELBOURNE: Jack Brady, Eric Molloy, Daniel Byrne, Charles Mutari, Alex O’Hanlon, Brandon Daly (Jamie Henderson, 64), Sean Quinn, Alex Centiner (Rasaq Alama 53), Dayle Rooney, Karl Moore, Ciaran Kilduff.
Subs: Colm Cox, Ray O’Sullivan, Aidan Leonard, Warren Curran.