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Bohemians just one point from Europa League football thanks to Wade-Slater and Wright

Keith Long’s side secured an impressive 2-1 win against Dundalk on Friday.

Bohemians Rob Cornwall and Georgie Kelly of Dundalk.
Bohemians Rob Cornwall and Georgie Kelly of Dundalk.
Image: Ciaran Culligan/INPHO

Bohemians 2

Dundalk 1

THE INCREDIBLE JOB which Keith Long and Trevor Croly have performed at Bohemians this season, punching well above their weight towards the promised land of a potential European finish, will only be truly appreciated when the dust settles on this Premier Division campaign.

On Friday night, well-taken goals in each half from Luke Wade-Slater and Andre Wright marked another massive step towards a top four finish, as the Gypsies delivered a measured and hard-fought performance to put champions Dundalk to the sword 2-1 — the Lilywhites managing a Michael Duffy consolation with the last kick of the game.

It’s not been a common sight at all this season, or most seasons of late — Dundalk tasting defeat on the domestic front. Vinny Perth’s men have been nothing short of immense in 2019, winning 26 of their 34 league outings en route to league (and League Cup) success. An FAI Cup final in two weeks’ time awaits, too.

But tonight was all about the hosts, Dundalk looking somewhat jaded and just not quite themselves at all having already clinched the title and with that mouth-watering showdown with Shamrock Rovers at the Aviva Stadium undoubtedly their most pressing priority.

bohemians-fans-celebrate-their-sides-first-goal Bohemians supporters celebrate their opening goal at Dalymount Park. Source: Ciaran Culligan/INPHO

Perth rested a number of first-team regulars on Friday night like Sean Gannon, Chris Shields and Michael Duffy and the Lilywhites struggled to create any meaningful opportunities to properly test goalkeeper James Talbot in the opening half an hour in Phibsborough.

Georgie Kelly flashed a header wide from a Jamie McGrath cross from the left flank and another effort from Sean Murray was blasted just over the top of Tablot’s crossbar. Bohemians were far more dangerous venturing forward via Keith Ward, Wade-Slater and Wright.

A superb through ball from Danny Grant split Dundalk’s back three of Andy Boyle, Daniel Cleary and Sean Hoare completely apart after half an hour. Wade-Slater was there to pick up the pieces, racing through on goal before, crucially, slipping the ball past Gary Rogers with an expert first-time finish.

With the Premier Division crown already on its way to Oriel Park, this game meant far more to the hosts and the 3,000 vocal supporters inside Dalymount reacted as such with an immense release of relief and joy after the opening goal.

Despite Dundalk enjoying good spells of possession, Bohs’ lead was more than deserved. Keith Long’s side pressed on in search of a second right away and a Keith Ward corner almost curling directly into Rogers’ top corner would have been a sensational way to get it.

The playmakers’ deflected cross skimmed just wide, while another chance for Ward from a Sean Hoare mistake saw a right-footed shot blast narrowly over the top of the crossbar.

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james-talbot-console-the-injured-rob-cornwall Rob Cornwall was stretchered off injured in the first half. Source: Ciaran Culligan/INPHO

There were worrying signs for Bohemians just before the break, however. A Robbie Benson cross into the box saw Rob Cornwall react quickest to hoof clear, but the defender collided with another body in the process and was forced off. Stricken on an orange stretcher, Cornwall offered an appreciative thumbs up to the Jodi Stand on his way off before being replaced by Aaron Barry.

The second-half saw more of the same attacking pressure from Long’s men, gunning at all costs for that assurance goal to put a little bit of daylight between the sides. A number of precise attacking moves involving Wright and Wade-Slater combining down the right were forcibly blocked away bravely by Andy Boyle and Daniel Cleary throwing themselves in the firing line.

But Dundalk’s defence was breached for a second time when Wright controlled a pass on the edge of the box with a lovely first touch, before slamming a powerful, composed effort flying low all the way into Rogers’ bottom corner.

The Jodi Stand erupted again and Bohemians remained composed and level-headed in the final 20 minutes to try and maintain their two-goal cushion. Trying to find a response, Perth sprung first-team regulars Gannon and Duffy from the bench and the latter did succeed in halving the deficit.

Duffy planted a low effort into Talbot’s corner. But the goal came too little, too late, with the final kick of the game as referee Graham Kelly blew his whistle for full-time immediately after the re-start.

Friday’s impressive victory sees Bohemians take another big step towards a first European finish since 2012 with two games remaining — requiring just one more point to seal a top four finish.

For Dundalk, it marks just their fourth league defeat of the campaign (their first since a 2-1 loss to Sligo on 12 April) as they now continue their preparations for their FAI Cup showdown at Lansdowne Road in a fortnight’s time.

BOHEMIANS: James Talbot; Derek Pender, Rob Cornwall (Aaron Barry 44), James Finnerty, Paddy Kirk; Scott Allardice, Danny Grant, Keith Ward (Dawson Devoy 84), Ross Tierney, Ryan Graydon, Luke Wade-Slater, Andre Wright (Ryan Swan 93)

DUNDALK: Gary Rogers; Sean Hoare (Lido Lotefa 71), Andy Boyle, Daniel Cleary, Dane Massey; Sean Murray, Cameron Dummigan (Sean Gannon 60), Robbie Benson; Jamie McGrath, Georgie Kelly, Daniel Kelly (Michael Duffy 60)

Referee: Graham Kelly

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About the author:

Aaron Gallagher  / Reports from Dalymount Park

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