Grant to rescue for battling Bohemians

 

Intertoto Cup First round, first leg/Bohemians - 1 Gent - 0: While many who take part view the Intertoto Cup as an occasional imposition with the potential for considerable returns, the players at Gent must really hate the competition.

This is the fourth year in five that the Belgian club's management has availed of the opportunity to curtail its squad's summer holidays to enter and unless Georges Leekens' side can improve on Saturday night's performance at Dalymount Park in next weekend's return leg the rest of the run-up to the start of their league campaign will be a depressing affair.

Not that they will be conceding defeat just yet. The Belgians need to come from behind in next Saturday's second leg after being caught out by Tony Grant's 49th minute goal.

But their overall performance at Dalymount, less than a week after returning to training, suggested they have the potential to give Gareth Farrelly's side a much tougher night's work when the two sides met again.

For a start, as Farrelly acknowledged afterwards, they will be a little bit sharper and they will obviously be a little defensive that they were in a game they set out to kill off rather than control.

However if they are to progress, as they did against St Patrick's Athletic in this competition three years ago, they will have to fundamentally alter the balance of a contest which Bohemians enjoyed much the better of and which the Irish side would have come close to having wrapped up if only they had capitalised on their chances.

One of the home side's better efforts came via Stephen Ward's shot late in the first half which Gent goalkeeper, Zlatko Runje, did very well to push over.

But there was nothing the Croatian could do when Dominic Foley floated in a fine cross from the left for Grant; the striker's close range header took a favourable deflection off Stephen Laybutt on the way to the net.

Foley might have had at least one goal himself, most notably when he was sent clear on the goalkeeper only to pull his low shot well wide, and Ward forced a rather panicky clearance from Runje after 61 minutes.

Bohemians simply couldn't break down a big and capable defence for a second time, though, and their prospects in the second leg may hinge on their ability to keep their opponents at bay, at least until late on when Leekens would be obliged to take risks in pursuit of an equaliser.

"It would have been great to get the second goal," said Grant afterwards, "but I thought we defended well and if we play liked that again over there then we can keep the clean sheet we need to go through.

"We're going well at the moment, that's five or six wins on the bounce and that breeds confidence so we certainly won't go out there for the second leg fearing them even if they should be that little bit better than they were tonight."

Bohemians coped well enough defensively although they were fortunate after 71 minutes when Tim Matthijs muscled his way in between Ken Oman and James Keddyonly to shoot wildly over the advancing Matt Gregg.

It would only take a better finish in a similar position this weekend to tip the balance of the tie in the Belgians' favour but for the moment it's Bohemians who have the upper hand.

BOHEMIANS: Gregg; Rice, Oman, Byrne, Keddy; Kelly (Harkin 73), Hunt, Farrelly, Ward; Grant, Foley.

GHENT: Runje; Smoje, Laybutt, Lombaerts; Mirvic (Matthijs 60), Mamouni, Hakonsen; Cooreman, Vrancken; Jbari, Boussoufa.

Referee: S Lazarevski (Macedonia).