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Goalless draw sees Dundalk's European dream come to an end

The 0-0 draw saw them exit 2-1 on aggregate.

John Mountney dejected after the game
John Mountney dejected after the game

Dundalk  (1) 0-0 (2) BATE Borisov

By Barry Landy at Oriel Park

Dundalk’s Champions League dream ended in a stalemate at Oriel Park, as Belarus’ BATE Borisov proved too tough a nut to crack for Stephen Kenny’s young side who went out of European competition by a one goal margin for the second straight season.

The defeat leaves the domestic league leaders with only league and cup competition to focus on for the remainder of 2015. While they come away with huge credit for their performances over two legs, they can reflect on a tough draw. Anything here, bar a sub -standard showing, was a bonus against very difficult opposition.

Stephen Kenny’s side were widely lauded for their performance in Belarus last week, including by the BATE manager Aleksandr Yermakovich who admitted he wasn’t expecting the unfancied Irishmen to go away and play with such intent to control. He was expecting a showing similar to that of Glenavon when the Irish League side went out Glenavon to Shakhtyor earlier this summer.

One of the features of that display that was pinpointed in the game’s aftermath was that the Lilywhites had conceded just six free kicks throughout the entire 90 minutes at the Borisov Arena. Here, Brian Gartland clumsily clattered into striker Vitali Rodionov after just 20 seconds.

It was an indicator of things to come. This game had real bite, and Dundalk were purposeful, aggressive even, as the domestic champions were all too aware of the task at hand and no doubt pumped by a boisterous and hopeful home crowd at Oriel.

Gary Rogers makes a save Gary Rogers saves well from Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Darren Meenan was in the wars early on, as was Dane Massey in the second half. The clearance of Rodionov by UEFA to take part in this game provided extra needle too. His every touch was greeted with a boo from both stand and shed.

The first opportunity of note came direct from the free kick Gartland conceded. After the free was cleared, Igor Stasevich looped a ball back in and Rodionov hooked a volley over Rogers’ bar. In the 10th minute, the Belarus international was at it again. He beat the offside trap before his shot was blocked by Dundalk skipper Stephen O’Donnell. On the rebound, he wastefully stabbed wide.

BATE profligacy was a feature of this game and would see Dundalk remain in with a chance throughout. In acres of space, BATE midfielder Stasevich curled a shot wide before moments later Mikhail Gordeichuk fluffed his lines when in a good position.

Gartland and Chernik collided when they both tried to meet a Richie Towell free-kick as Dundalk looked to engineer something but the best chance of the half did fall their way in the 25th minute. Towell and Ronan Finn combined to release David McMillan and with the striker bearing down on goal, he turned onto his left foot and saw his shot smothered by the advancing goalkeeper.

Gary Rogers was busy before the break when plucking left back Filip Mladenovic’s free kick out of the air before making a sensational fingertip save to deny Stasevich at the back post. It looked like the shot had come clean off the bar but TV replays confirm, Rogers tipped it onto the woodwork.

David McMillan dejected after the game Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Stephen Kenny had spoken before the game of Dundalk attacking BATE, in the only way they know to play, but he was wary of “leaving the garden gate open”. With the Lilywhites still insistent o playing it out from the back, that felt for some shaky moments with visiting strikers keen to pounce.

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If the gate wasn’t open, it was certainly on the latch and a predatory opportunist would have fancied his chances. And the away side continued to create in the second half. Mladenovic – the left back who’s starting position at all goal kicks was in the opposing half – flashed a dangerous looking shot wide.

Substitute Nemanja Nikolic, a full Serbian international, blazed over when played in by Karnitski in the 73rd minute while Dundalk’s most promising move came when Gannon made a surging run into the BATE half. It hardly was a chance, but it warmed the cockles of the capacity home support.

Kenny – who brought in Darren Meenan and Ronan Finn for John Mountney and Chris Shields as the two changes from the first leg – swapped those duos around in the second half, as Dundalk looked to wrest control from their more illustrious opponents.

They worked hard, with fitness evidently not an issue as it may have been in the past. But it wasn’t to be and as Greek referee Stavros Tritsonis blew the final whistle, Dundalk players Brian Gartland and Kurtis Byrne seemed to confront opposition players in centre field exchange that threatened to get ugly.

Hungarian’s Videoton progressed from their tie with TNS. Dundalk may have fancied either en route a potentially huge playoff clash.

DUNDALK:

Gary Rogers, Sean Gannon, Brian Gartland, Andy Boyle, Dane Massey, Stephen O’Donnell, Richie Towell, Ronan Finn (John Mountney, 76), Daryl Horgan (Kurtis Byrne, 81), Darren Meenan (Chris Shields, 56), David McMillan.

Substitutes: Gabriel Sava, Shane Grimes, Paddy Barratt, Jake Kelly.

BATE BORISOV:

Sergei Chernik, Maksim Zhavnerchik, Kaspars Dubra, Nemanja Milunovic, Filip Mladenovic, Aleksander Karnitski (Mikhail Signevich, 90) Dmitri Baga, Mikhail Gordeichuk (Alexei Rios, 85), Vitali Rodionov, Igor Stasevich, Ilya Aleksiyevich (Nemanja Nikolic, 68).

Substitutes: Artem Soroko, Vitali Galduchik, Evgeni Yablonski, Maksim Volodko.

REFEREE: Stavos Tritsonis (Greece)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Stephen O’Donnell (Dundalk)

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