LEINSTER SENIOR CUP: BOHEMIANS 1 UCD 2 (AET)
Bohemians’ first competitive game of the season ended in an extra-time defeat to soon-to-be familiar foes UCD on Sunday afternoon, writes KEVIN FAGAN.
This was the first of three games against the Students across three competitions in the coming weeks. Unfortunately for Bohs, bossed by assistant manager Owen Heary, this first installment went the way of the visitors after former Student Ciaran Nangle’s own goal in the second period of extra-time.
Frustrated by a series of postponements of pre-season friendlies scheduled for Dalymount, this was the first chance for the Bohs faithful to get a look at the much talked-about home surface.
Unfortunately, the prognosis does not look good. While groundstaff have been working tirelessly, the recent appalling weather has had an impact – the surface is patchy and bobbly, and doesn’t lend itself to flowing football at the moment.
Dave Scully partnered Stephen Paisley at the heart of the Bohs defence. Scully became a cult figure for Bohs fans last season and boss Aaron Callaghan has hinted that centre-half is a position the 28-year-old could fill regularly, having previously played there under Roddy Collins at Carlisle United.
The Gypsies started with a new-look midfield trio of Conor O’Brien, Shane Murray and Darragh Reynor. The latter was particularly impressive, showing a fine range of passing and a bit of bite that could come in handy this term.
Reynor, a former Nottingham Forest youth player, kickstarted the first meaningful move of the match. His raking 40-yard crossfield pass found the overlapping Nangle, whose cross should really have been converted by the head of Dwayne Wilson. The ball struck Wilson’s shoulder when a clean contact would have surely put the home side in front.
Wilson was playing in the lone frontman role that he excelled in against Shamrock Rovers in the famous 4-0 slaying, and he had another half chance after 11 minutes. Reynor’s Scholes-esque through ball put Wilson in behind the UCD defence, but his control let him down and the ball was cleared for a corner.
The pitch was causing problems for midfielders trying to play the ball on the deck. O’Brien got himself stuck and gave the ball away to ex-Bohs man Dinny Corcoran, who unleashed a lovely curling left-footed shot that seemed destined for the top corner, only for Greg Murray to pull off a terrific fingertip save.
The best chance of the first half fell to Wilson. A dinked cross from Karl Moore forced UCD’s Sean Coyne into a poor defensive header. It went straight to Wislon just seven yards out, but his strike was fired high over Conor O’Donnell’s crossbar.
Bohs definitely had the better of the opening half, but the only other effort of note was a Karl Moore 25-yarder that had O’Donnell scrambling before looping wide.
Despite the Leinster Senior Cup’s status as a competitive competition, this game had a distinct pre-season friendly feel about it, especially in the second half. Neither side really pressed in midfield areas, and goalmouth action was at a premium.
Wilson caught UCD’s Hughie Douglas napping on the hour mark, nipping in to force O’Donnell into a smart save. The ball rebounded to Murray, but his looping shot was cleared off the line by the retreating UCD defence.
Moore missed a guilt-edged chance to open the scoring with just nine minutes remaining. The bustling Reynor clipped the ball through, but Moore shot wide from just 12 yards with only the keeper to beat.
It looked like that would be a costly miss, as the Students took the lead with just three minutes left on the clock thanks to a nightmare error from Bohs keeper Murray.
Having collected a routine backpass, the pitch and poor technique meant Murray’s kick trickled to Gary Burke, who had the simple task of rolling the ball in against his former club.
It looked like the visitors had completed a smash-and-grab raid, but Scully had other ideas. Just a minute later, he nodded in Reynor’s free-kick to send the game into extra-time. His outrageous John Travolta-style dancing celebration was probably the highlight of a bitterly cold afternoon.
Extra-time seemed to be an unwanted period for all concerned, especially those concerned with the state of the pitch. Again, there was little goalmouth action until the second period. After referee Paul Tuite had given UCD a soft free-kick on the corner of the box, Sean Russell fired in a wicked cross that Nangle could only direct into his own net.
The teams (and hopefully the temperature) will be drastically different when the teams meet next in the Airtricity League opener in 12 days’ time. Callaghan will also be hoping for a different outcome.
Bohemians: Greg Murray, Michael Barker, Stephen Paisley, Dave Scully, Ciaran Nangle, Shane Fitzgerald (Lee Whelan, 106), Conor O’Brien (Niall Forrester, 64), Darragh Reynor, Shane Murray, Karl Moore, Dwayne Wilson (Adam Kelly, 64). Subs not used: Conor Little, Kevin O’Leary, Luke Kelly.
UCD: Conor McDonnell, Gareth Matthews, Hughie Douglas, James Kavanagh, Sean Coyne, Dean Clake, Colm Crowe (Tomas Boyle, 61), Craig Walsh (Adam Whelan, 102), Sean Russell, Gary Burke, Daniel Corcoran (Oua Adeyemo, 61). Subs not used: Ger Barron, Ayman Ben Mohamed, Robbie Suayer, Liam Traynor.