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10-man Dundalk stand tall to beat Bohs after terrible goalkeeper error

Tadhg Ryan’s own goal proved decisive at Dalymount Park.

Tadhg Ryan concedes an own-goal.
Tadhg Ryan concedes an own-goal.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

Bohemians 0 

Dundalk 1

DUNDALK’S TEN MEN held off a late Bohemians’ onslaught to cut Shamrock Rovers’ lead at the top of the Premier Division to four points. 

Bohs’ conceded a disastrous goal in first-half stoppage time – an own goal in a moment of unfolding tameness from goalkeeper Tadhg Ryan – and couldn’t break the Dundalk rearguard after Andy Boyle’s 53rd-minute red card. They occasionally came close, with substitute Jonathan Afolabi hitting the post in the game’s final moments. 

But this proved to be another deeply frustrating in a mundane season for Bohs, though there were flashes of encouragement from new strikers Ethon Varian and Afolabi. Bohs have essentially rebuilt their team in the middle of the season, and tonight started seven players who weren’t at the club at the start of the year.

They started the livelier, and James Clarke summed up their directness by dribbling through midfield and sliding a pass through for Varian, but Darragh Leahy recovered to cut out the danger before Varian could pounce. 

It was a whirlwind Bohs start: Clarke tried a similar pass moments later that didn’t find its target, the buzzing Ali Coote forced a couple of corners and Varian’s brilliant hold-up play set a counter-attacking opportunity which was then ruined by a poor pass down the left flank to Declan McDaid. 

Ten minutes later, when Dundalk steadied and the fog cleared, Pat Hoban was lying crumpled on the ground just outside of his own penalty area. He limped off very gingerly, replaced by John Martin, whose first act was to be booked for an aerial challenge on Ciarán Kelly. 

Dundalk grew into the game despite the loss of their captain, cutting off Bohs’ passing lanes into midfield and disappearing Clarke from the game. It left Bohs to a series of long balls that brought little joy and a symphony of groans from the Jodi Stand. Dundalk then felt their way slowly into the game as an attacking force: neat feet by Ryan O’Kane in the penalty area forced Kelly into an excellent interception before Ryan was forced into action. 

Panic reigned minutes later when Ryan spilled Leahy’s cross, but he gathered just before Martin could turn in the rebound. The Bohs’ goalkeeper – continuing to deputise for James Talbot, injured on Irish international duty in June – then did well to block Martin’s penalty-area shot from a simple long ball. He then dealt terribly with the next long ball that came his way. 

In the second of three minutes’ stoppage time – one of them added for the first-half water break – the ball cannoned off Darragh Leahy’s shin as he was tackled by Coote and into the box, where Ryan allowed it bounce off the sun-baked turf. A terrible decision: the ball kicked up off the ground and looped over his head, where Martin jumped to challenge him in the air. Martin made minimal contact with the goalkeeper, though, and Ryan clumsily palmed the ball into his own net. 

Some Bohs’ players were furious with referee Adriano Reale for not awarding a foul against Martin – a couple of them chased him Drogba-on-Henning-Ovrebo-style – but the goal stood. The stadium announcer generously awarded the goal to Martin, but it was an own goal by the goalkeeper as he got the last touch before the ball crossed the line. 

The game then swung Bohs’ way within seven minutes of the restart. A long ball over the top was superbly controlled on the run by Varian, hooking it first-time over Andy Boyle’s head and sending him streaking clear without breaking stride. Boyle, in a bid to recover, clipped Varian’s heels on the edge of the box. The Jodi Stand bayed for a red card, which the referee flashed in Boyle’s direction. 

adriano-reale-shows-a-red-card-to-andy-boyle Boyle is sent off. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Keith Long introduced new signing Jonathan Afolabi on the hour mark, and his first act was to turn James Burke’s admittedly bobbling cross agonisingly wide of the far post. 

Bohs created little after that until Long made his next move, replacing Declan McDaid with Liam Burt, who made an instant impact. Burt weaved his way to the endline and snapped the ball across the box, which Nathan Shepperd adroitly flicked away from Varian at the far post. Dundalk’s mass of defenders dealt with the ensuing penalty-box scramble. 

Bohs’ kept applying pressure, and Varian climbed into the sky but somehow glanced a header from Coote’s corner wide of the post. 

The pressure was cranked higher and higher: Afolabi somehow found space behind the Dundalk defence and rolled a shot from a tight angle off the post. To sum up Bohs’ luck, the ball bounced off the post and to the wrong side of Coote, who might otherwise have converted the rebound. 

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Shepperd incensed the Bohs supporters by taking his sweet time over goal kicks: he was eventually booked, shortly before the fourth official revealed there would be eight minutes of stoppage time. 

It was in the first minute of it that Alfie Lewis bafflingly spurned a chance to seal the game for Dundalk. He broke clear of the Bohs defence and, with Ryan advanced, had Martin to his left in acres of space for an easy tap-in. Instead he turned back on himself, and soon lost the ball. Martin took matters into hand a minute later, skating through the Bohs midfield and flashing a shot just over the bar from the edge of the box. 

In truth, Bohs lacked the guile to break Dundalk down in the final minutes, with the Dundalk defence dealing comfortably with the aerial bombardment that came their way.

Bohemians: Tadhg Ryan; Laurenz Dehl (Rory Feely, HT), Josh Kerr, Ciarán Kelly (captain), Ryan Burke (Junio Ugoedi-Ukweze; Jordan Doherty, (Conor Levingston, HT) James Clarke; Ali Coote, John O’Sullivan (Jonathan Afolabi, 60′) , Declan McDaid (Liam Burt, 72′); Ethon Varian 

Dundalk: Nathan Shepperd; Lewis Macari, Andy Boyle, Sam Bone, Darragh Leahy;  Alfie Lewis, Greg Sloggett; Steven Bradley, Ryan O’Kane (Robbie Benson, 78′); Joe Adams (Robbie McCourt, 53′), Pat Hoban (captain) (John Martin, 11′)

Referee: Adrian Reale 

About the author:

Gavin Cooney  / reports from Dalymount Park

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