It’s three ‘n’ easy as the Drogs suf­fer hol­i­day hell

Drogheda Independent - - SPORT -

DROGHEDA United were brought crash­ing back to earth with the heav­i­est of thuds at Mar­kets Field on Easter Satur­day as they failed dis­mally to build on their ex­cel­lent win against Sham­rock Rovers.

The value of that hard-earned vic­tory was starkly il­lus­trated as this lat­est set­back saw the Boy­nesiders plunge to within one point of the rel­e­ga­tion zone, and judg­ing by the dis­play against Lim­er­ick it could be a long and dif­fi­cult sum­mer for Pete Ma­hon’s team.

In fair­ness to Drogheda, they were badly hit by in­juries and sus­pen­sion, with all three Bren­nan broth­ers among the ab­sen­tees along with Marc Grif­fin and Lloyd Buck­ley, while Ciaran McGuigan and Stephen El­liott were only deemed fit enough for the bench as they re­turned from ill­ness and in­jury.

Lim­er­ick were also com­ing into this game on the back of an en­cour­ag­ing win - away to St Pat’s in Wil­lie Boland’s first game as in­terim man­ager fol­low­ing the shock exit of Martin Rus­sell - and it was the Shan­non­sid­ers who made hay as Drogheda had a night­mare start.

Set pieces have been some­thing of an Achilles’ heel for the Drogs this sea­son and once again that weak­ness was ev­i­dent as early as the fifth minute as for­mer United Park favourite Lee Lynch swung in a cor­ner and Brazil­ian striker Ro­drigo Tosi got in front of his marker to head home pow­er­fully.

The last thing Drogheda needed was for the rub of the green to go against them, but just two min­utes later a poorly struck shot by Chiedozie Og­bene re­bounded off Chris Mul­hall and past keeper Stephen McGuin­ness.

Not that they could com­plain about their bad for­tune, for a week ear­lier Drogheda were the ben­e­fi­cia­ries from that scram­bled stop­page-time equaliser against Rovers. These in­ci­dents tend to even them­selves out over the course of the sea­son.

A great over­lap­ping run by Lim­er­ick right-back Shaun Kelly ended with a low cross which Tosi failed to con­vert as the Drogheda de­fence ap­plied suf­fi­cient pres­sure to put him off.

The away side were in some dis­ar­ray at this stage and Lim­er­ick were al­most gifted a third goal when Tosi ben­e­fited from a mix-up be­tween McGuin­ness and cen­tre-half Kevin Far­ragher, only to be de­nied by the keeper who re­cov­ered well af­ter the ini­tial con­fu­sion.

Kelly was a con­stant threat for Lim­er­ick, en­sur­ing an un­com­fort­able evening for Drogs left-back Stephen Dunne, and fol­low­ing one of his surg­ing runs Og­bene turned and fired to­wards goal, only for Far­ragher to block on the line.

Go­ing into half-time Drogheda knew they had to score first in the sec­ond half to have any re­al­is­tic chance of sal­vaging some­thing from the game, but within eight min­utes Lim­er­ick had the points wrapped up.

Og­bene, the for­mer Cork City player who caused Drogheda plenty of headaches in the pre-sea­son friendly back in Fe­bru­ary, took pos­ses­sion from Bren­dan Clarke’s an­gled clear­ance and ac­cel­er­ated past the chal­lenges of Colm Deasy and Luke Gal­lagher.

His even­tual shot wasn’t par­tic­u­larly well-struck, but it had suf­fi­cient power to beat McGuin­ness and Drogheda were 3-0 down with more than half an hour re­main­ing.

Lynch al­most helped him­self to a spec­tac­u­lar fourth as his 20-yard shot can­noned off the Drogheda cross­bar, and the same piece of wood­work was hit shortly af­ter as sub­sti­tute Dean Clarke was put through by Tosi and saw his shot touched onto the bar by McGuin­ness.

Drogheda had car­ried lit­tle or no threat in at­tack up to this point, but Clarke was fi­nally called into ac­tion when sub­sti­tute Stephen El­liott - a re­place­ment for Ryan McEvoy mid-way through the sec­ond half - shot straight at the Lim­er­ick net­min­der.

Adam Wixted and McGuigan also saw game time as Jake Hy­land and Mark Doyle were hauled off, but the changes made no dif­fer­ent to the bal­ance of play as Drogheda’s poor away form con­tin­ued.

Five min­utes from time McGuin­ness was called into ac­tion again to help pre­vent an even heav­ier de­feat, mak­ing a fine stop to keep out a curling Clarke ef­fort.

Drogheda put it up to Lim­er­ick in all four meet­ings be­tween the sides in the First Di­vi­sion last sea­son even though they only picked up two points out of 12, but they never looked likely to pick up any­thing on this oc­ca­sion.

Had they been at full strength they would surely have given a much bet­ter ac­count of them­selves, how­ever, and the re­turn of key play­ers can­not come soon enough for Ma­hon as the first se­ries of top-flight games draws to a close.

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