BOHEMIANS 1 DROGHEDA UNITED 1
Bohemians dropped down one league position on Friday night to occupy bottom place for the first time this season, writes CILLIAN SHIELDS.
But it wasn’t all bad news as the draw, secured by Roberto Lopes’ late equaliser, brought plenty of positives for the Gypsies’ battle for survival as they secured their first point at home since April.
Seeing out the second of his two-match suspension, caretaker boss Owen Heary once again had to watch on from the TV gantry as Bohs started brightly and with a renewed sense of urgency after last week’s massive three points gained away to relegation rivals Bray Wanderers.
Chris Lyons and Dinny Corcoran pressed high from the off and made life difficult for the visitors’ defence. But Bohs were unable to turn the pressure into any clear-cut goalscoring opportunities.
The closest they came to breaking the deadlock in this early spell was when Karl Moore attacked the Drogs defence on the left wing before setting striker Corcoran clear with a beautifully-measured through ball. The ex-UCD and Drogheda frontman failed to control the ball sufficiently to get a clear strike, and the attack petered out into nothing.
Soon afterwards, Drogheda’s shape improved, and their midfielders and wingers got more time on the ball. A series of David Cassidy corners left Bohs fans biting their nails. But a defence that was missing Owen Heary, Dave Mulcahy, and Luke Byrne, was bolstered with the re-signing of Anto Murphy, who added composure and stability to the weakened backline.
Dean Delany had to be alert when one of Cassidy’s corners found its way to the feet of Gavin Brennan, whose low strike was well saved by the Bohs goalkeeper.
The second half continued much like the first, with Drogheda enjoying much more of the possession. On one of the rare occasions that Bohs were able to find space to attack the opposition, Conor Murphy squared the ball to the awaiting Corcoran, whose low shot was too tame to beat Michael Schlingermann.
Drogheda’s pressure nearly paid off when a well-constructed training ground move saw a corner come straight to Ryan Brennan near the edge of the box. He met the ball perfectly and his bullet shot clattered the Bohs crossbar.
But Drogs eventually drew first blood on 65 minutes when Delany failed to deal with a powerful in-swinging corner from Gavin Brennan. He could only parry to defender Alan Byrne, who finished from close range to give Mick Cooke’s men the lead.
After the goal, the home side found it difficult to get back into the game, with the midfield looking absent for large spells. Drogheda continued to attack when on the ball, and didn’t have a lot to deal with defensively, as Bohs began to look desperate after going a goal down.
It was difficult to see how the home team were going to find a leveller, but with two minutes left of normal time, Anto Murphy told Darragh Reynor to leave a throw-in and allow him to take it instead.
Murphy, who turns 31 this Thursday, threw it straight into the danger zone for his only long throw of the night, and the ball was met by his centre-back partner Lopes, who cooly volleyed home from six yards out.
The excitement would continue, as mere minutes later Dalymount Park went from ecstatic to momentarily heartbroken when Declan O’Brien put the ball in the back of Delany’s net, only to be pulled back for offside.
The home side then could have snatched all three points, when substitute Dave Scully found himself with a bit of space in the box, only to go down from a tackle too easily for the referee Rob Rogers’ liking, who booked the striker for diving.
The stalemate leaves Bohemians bottom and Drogheda just four points and four league positions higher. Bohs have now taken four points from a possible six since parting ways with former manager Aaron Callaghan, and could overtake as much as three teams next week if results go their way.
Speaking after the match, Anto Murphy said: “It’s a very important point for us, as Drogheda were putting a lot of pressure on us for most of the match. I think when we switched to three at the back we started getting a lot more joy on the sides.”
Murphy brings much experience to the youthful Bohemians team. He feels he has more of a responsibility now than the first time he was at the club, when he won five major trophies from 2008-2010.
He said: “Position-wise, and talking; the young lads wouldn’t be used to it so much. But I was telling the lads to just keep at it. I told them the more we get it down the wings, the more corners and throw-ins we’ll get, and I knew I could throw the ball as good as a corner.”
After being out of the League of Ireland since leaving Shelbourne at the end of last season, Murphy reassured Bohs fans that he has retained much of his fitness having played with Sheriff YC this season, although he acknowledge he lacked match fitness having been away on honeymoon for the majority of June.
He added: “I got back into training around the start of July, so I’m fit, but it’s just match fitness that I’ll need to regain, which I should be able to achieve over the next couple of weeks playing and training.”
Bohemians: Delany; Barker (Scully, 83), Lopes, A Murphy, Reynor; Buckley, Traynor (Mulligan 69), McEvoy, Moore; Corcoran, Lyons (C Murphy 49).
Drogheda United: Schlingermann; Grimes, Byrne, Prendergast, G. Brennan; R. Brennan, O’Conor, O’Neill, Cassidy: Rusk, Hynes (O‘Brien 69).
Referee: Rob Rogers (Dublin).