St Pat’s draw leaves Dundalk with work to do to nail down third

Robbie Benson scores against his former club again, to cancel out Pat Hoban goal

St Patrick’s Athletic 1 Dundalk 1

This result suited nobody really but there were few complaints after a match in which both sides had clearly tried to win without actually doing enough to deserve the victory.

When Pat Hoban had given Filippo Giovagnoli's side the lead midway through the first half, the visitors had seemed set to push on and take all three points but they were pursued after the break by opponents whose own sense of urgency was unmistakable. After Billy King and Jordan Gibson had failed to convert good chances, it was Robbie Benson who somewhat inevitably perhaps got the goal against his former club. As he had at Oriel Park in July.

“I think it’s a fair result,” said Giovagnolii afterwards. His side now need to a point against Sligo next weekend to secure the all important third spot. A slightly anxious position for the 2019 champions to be in on the last night of the campaign.

“We were trying to get the job done tonight, of course,” he said. “We prepared and we had come to get the job done but it’s not easy when you have an opponent who needs the point too. They were more aggressive and they looked more fresh than us. But it is what it is. At the end of the day what counts is the objective and for us the objective is to get third position. We have another week to get what we want and qualify for Europe for next season.”

A win would have kept Stephen O’Donnell’s side in with an outside chance of stealing in ahead of them but that all but died here. It did advance the hosts’ cause in terms avoiding the relegation play-off though, with Rovers’ win over Finn Harps in the day’s later game making his side all but mathematically safe with two games remaining.

O’Donnell’s tone suggested that he didn’t see it as a matter of enormous urgency as he seemed fairly sure that his side would be okay regardless, as long as they continued to play like this in the two Dublin derbies to come this week.

“We’ve gone toe to toe with the top side in the country for the last six or seven years, and we were the better team,” he said. “I don’t look at the table, I’m not going to say I’ve not thought about it, but I just concentrate on performances and I thought we were very good.”

They had played well, especially in a second half they dominated but their best chances came in the first and were passed up and for all the territorial advantage late on Gary Rogers certainly wasn't made to work very hard.

“Maybe our final pass lacked a bit of quality,” O’Donnell acknowledged, “and let us down a bit but we owned the game in terms of possession and not many teams domestically do that to Dundalk.”

St Patrick's Athletic: Clarke; Desmond, McNally, Bermingham; Feely, Lennon, Forrester, Griffin; Gibson (Doona, 85 mins), King (Burns, 80 mins), Benson.

Dundalk: Rogers; Gannon (Mountney, 67 mins), Hoare, Gartland, Cleary (Boyle, 77 mins), Leahy (Dummigan, 67 mins); Shields; Sloggett, Colovic (Flores, 56 mins), Duffy (McMillan, 77 mins); Hoban.

Referee: P McLaughlin (Donegal).

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone is an Assistant News Editor at The Irish Times