Drogheda United continued their unbeaten start to post-lockdown football on Monday evening, squeezing past Galway United courtesy of Chris Lyons’ early penalty conversion and in the process moved back into second position in the First Division.
The Drogs remain five points behind leaders Cabinteely but two home wins from two will please boss Tim Clancy and the supporters who now just swap their United Park seat for YouTube stream.
United have now lost just once all season but in a shortened season offering little room for error, the fact Cabo have dropped just two points from a possible 21 thus far will be lost on no one.
After the blow of the late concession against Athlone last Friday night, perhaps Galway – winless in the league in 2020 to date – were the perfect opposition for United.
New goalkeeper Matthew Connor started in goals for Alan Murphy’s team but it was home stopper David Odumuso’s goal which was threatened first. Stephen Christopher cut inside onto his left foot but his shot was just off target.
After Shane Doherty was upended on the egde of the area, Shane Duggan’s floated free kick reached the back post and when headed back into the centre of the six yard box, a scramble ensued but the referee’s whistle drew sighs of relief from those associated with the home team.
Despite Galway’s smart start, the game swung the home sides way with shy of 12 minutes played. Galway centre back Jack Lynch bundled into the back of Lyons as he ran into box, clumsily sending the striker to the turf.
The talismanic forward picked himself up to fire his spot kick straight down the middle for his second goal in two games and his fourth this term. The Drogheda striker is outscored in the First Division only by Cabo’s Shane Barnes.
He almost had a second soon after. After a Galway attack, Odumuso quickly played a brilliant long ball forward, which Lyons gamely chased down as it dropped from the evening sky. Connor rushed out and completely misread the bounce, but Lyons was denied by a block from Maurice Nugent. The intervention saved a certain goal.
A deflected Shane Duggan free kick hit the crossbar with Odumuso stranded and helpless and then Duggan went close again, shooting wide at the culmination of a Tribesman counter attack.
But the outstanding chances kept falling for the Drogs, and in particular Lyons. Through on goal shortly before the break, he tried to slip past the goalkeeper but Connor did well to make himself wide and save with foot.
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The rain contributed to a slippery night at United Park as the game wore on into the second half. It was a shame that the game was played in the current circumstances, given it was in memory of club stalwart Brendan ‘Locky’ Loughran who died last week.
A number of supporters and club members, faces familiar all of them, stood at United Park on Friday morning as his funeral procession passed by and a wreath was laid at the clubhouse door.
The home struggled at times throughout, especially in the second half and Galway will have made the lengthy trip back towards Eamonn Deacy Park frustrated with their inability to use the ball more efficiently.
A wayward pass from a Galway defender fell to Brandon Bermingham, who brought the ball past halfway and slipped su Stephen Meaney through on goal. The diminutive left sided player shot early early and Connor saved, before Bermingham’s volleyed rebound went over.
Substitutes Francely Lomboto and Mikey Place had efforts for Galway, while captain James Brown started and finished an excellent move which also involved Bermingham and sub Richie O’Farrell. The influential right back shot across goal but Connor saved.
The victors pushed for an equaliser late on. Nugent’s header from Conor Barr’s free kick hit the side netting in what was a let off for Clancy’s team. As they pressed, Brown – yet again – broke clear and found Bermingham who, after a defender slipped, was through one-on-one but the teenager couldn’t produce the finish. Connor denied him.
DROGHEDA UNITED: David Odumuso, James Brown, Derek Prendergast, Hugh Lyons, Conor Kane, Jake Hyland, Mark Hughes, Brandon Bermingham, Mark Doyle (Jack Tuite, 67), Ryan O’Shea (Richie O’Farrell, 56), Chris Lyons (Stephen Meaney, 56).
SUBS NOT USED: Ross Treacy, Sean Brennan, Jordan Adeyemo, James Clarke.
GALWAY UNITED: Matthew Connor, Colm Horgan, Jack Lynch, Maurice Nugent, Timo Parthoens (Carlton Ubaezuono, 84), Shane Duggan, Donal Higgins (Conor Barry, 77), Stephen Christopher (Francely Lomboto, 67), Timmy Molloy (Caoilfhionn O’Dea, 77), Shane Doherty, Vinny Faherty (Mikey Place, 67).
SUBS NOT USED: Kevin Horgan, Enda Curran.
REFEREE: Alan Patchell