League of Ireland premier division – St Patrickís Athletic 2 / Drogheda United 1
BY Dave Donnelly
IT WAS a little case of history repeating for St Patrick’s Athletic as the aptly-named Billy King struck the decisive blow in the battle with the Boynesiders on Saturday afternoon.
The Scottish winger held off the challenge of James Brown, in this case the full-back, to volley home a last-minute winner as the Inchicore side rose to second in the table behind Finn Harps.
It looked set to be a less welcome form of déja vu for Stephen O’Donnell as they blew a second-half lead for the second time in a week following an opening draw with Shamrock Rovers.
Rónán Coughlan had fired the Saints into the lead just before the hour mark but it lasted just nine minutes as Dinny Corcoran returned to haunt his old club with a goal from the bench.
The drama of the second half was in stark contrast to the first when neither side created much in the way of clear-cut chances.
Pats lost left-back Shane Griffin to a muscle injury in first-half injury time and his replacement, captain Ian Bermingham, proved the catalyst for an upturn in the hosts’ fortunes with both goals originating on his flank.
The Athletic duly took control in the second half and should have led within two minutes as Coughlan’s through-ball found its way to Robbie Benson but, with just keeper David Odumosu to beat, he pulled his shot well wide.
The Drogs were finding it difficult to clear their lines and Pats poured forward with Waves of attacks, Jay McClelland, Matty Smith and Same Bone all trying their luck from range.
Odumosu was equal to the first two efforts and Bone blazed his over the bar, but the momentum had clearly swung and there was little surprise when Coughlan broke the deadlock.
A sustained period of pressure ended with McClelland in space wide on the left and, though his cross was missed by Benson, it sat up perfectly for Coughlan to bundle home from point-blank range.
Saints never really pressed their advantage home, however, and they paid the price just ten minutes later as Corcoran pounced when Vitezslav Jaros dropped a routine save from Mark Doyle’s shot, reacting quickest to stab the loose ball home.
O’Donnell had two aces in his pocket, however, in the form of subs King and Darragh Burns, and the two widemen combined for the winning goal.
The clock was about to tick over to 90 when Bermingham teed up Coughlan, who was denied his second goal of the game by the post with Odumosu beaten.
Burns hustled the loose ball off Conor Kane on the edge of the box, however, and sent a cross looping to the back post where King was on hand to apply the finish.
PHOTO – St Pat’s manager Stephen O’Donnell ( Pic Laszlo Geczo /Inpho)