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Dublin: 13 °C Tuesday 15 October, 2019


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The Saints get marching on Europe and first up, are the familiar Icelandic side who were put to the sword at this stage last season.

Please let us know your thoughts on the game, tweet @TheScore_ie, email or check out our Facebook page.

St Patricks Athletic 1 – 0 IBV Vestmannaeyjar

Evenin’ folks and welcome along to our live coverage of St Patricks Athletic’s opening jaunt in the Europa League.

Yes, scarcely two months after Falcao brought the competition to a close, we’re back underway.

Team news should we with us very soon, while you waiting, have a glance of Ben Blake’s big match preview below.

Unfortunately, our extensive knowledge of IBV (as we’ll be calling them to save time) is not so extensive. Pats will be without Chris Forrester, but they welcome Anto Flood in amongst the substitutes and John Russell starts in midfield.

Here are the teams:

St Patricks Athletic: Brendan Clarke; Ger O’Brien, Conor Kenna (capt.), Kenny Browne, Ian Bermingham; James Chambers, Greg Bolger, John Russell; Darren Meenan, Christy Fagan, Sean O’Connor.

IBV:  Abel Dihara; George Baldock, Matt Garner, Bryjar Gauti Gudjonsson, Rasmus Christiansen (capt.); Gudmundur Thorarinsson, Ingi Valdimarsson, Tryggvi Gudmundsson, Ian Jeffs; Tonny Mawejje, Christian Olsen.

Both sides are in fine form going into this European adventure. Pats, as we know, are second in the table four points behind Sligo.

Vestmannaeyjar, meanwhile, are fourth in Iceland and they boast an unbeaten record in their last six games.

We’re 10 minutes from kick off here in Inchicore and the small crowd is slowly filtering in. The most interesting thing we’ve noticed thus far is (as pointed out by a colleague) IBV’s Aaron Spear was once on the books at Newcastle.

It’s only a year since Fulham were about to take him on board, but after a spell as a free agent he’ll be sitting a few rows in front of us, on the IBV bench. A fall from grace.

Here’s the rest of the subs for those interested:

Pats: Murphy, Carroll, Flynn, Price, D Kelly, Flood, J Kelly.

IBV: Sigurjonsson, Borgoirsson, Gudmundsson, Leosson, Thorvarson, Spear, Olafsson.

The teams emerge from the tunnel, IBV are decked out in all white. Pats are in their traditional hope red and white kit.

KICK OFF: The home side get proceeding underway and look to move the ball quickly. They shape up as expected with, Bolger, Chambers and Russell in midfield behind Meenan, Fagan and O’Connor.

The first bit of danger came four minutes in with Meenan’s low cross, cut out by Gudjonsson.

From their first spell of possession, Gudmundur Thorarinsson appears to be the visitors key playmaker. The boy has a decent left boot and is capable of switching the play accurately.

John Russell has shown the ability in his own left foot, but the shot is deflected behind for a corner which came to nothing.

News from Dalymount.

There’s the first bit of work for Abel Dihara. A nice bit of sustained Pats possession brings the ball right to O’Brien. The cross is dangerous, but the ‘keeper does well to get his rangey arms around it.

Straight up the other end and Inchicore has its heart in a collective mouth. Christian Olsen ghosted in behind Kenny Brown. He raced onto the simple long ball and attempted to lob it first time over Clarke. Silence engulfed the stands before the ball pinged away off the top of the cross-bar. Let-off.

Rovers boss Stephen Kenny is in attendance. He’ll be keen to see IBV make Pats work very hard tonight.

The natives are growing restless as the hosts allow mistakes creep into their game and concede possession to the Icelandic side. Jeffs’ back-heel dropped nicely for Gudmundsson and he would have tested Clarke were it not for Bermingham’s timely block. Pats manage to clear the resulting corner without fuss.

A firnly struck shot, that’s more like what the Richmond faithful want to see. Sean O’Conner cut inside onto his left and drove a low effort on target. Dihara, though, is well positioned and collects cleanly.

Kenny Browne isn’t having his best game. In fact, he’s been downright poor so far.

A 28th minute dribble brought him stumbling to the ground in midfield. The free was given against him and IBV attempted to get in behind him quickly. O’Connor was soon able to intercept a stray pass, but the Icelandic swarm won possession back and soon won a corner.

From there, Olsen met the ball with a left-foot volley from six vards Chambers did well do get his body in front of goal.

The best move of the match. Just as Bermingham looked to have run out of room in his own corner, he toed a ball to Bolger. The playmaker took a touch before accelerating past two and sending John Russell and James Chambers through the middle.

Pats made it to the far corner through O’Connor, who wsa scythed down right of the penalty area. No booking. O’Connor took the resulting free and it had Dihara backpeddling and panicking as he reached backwards to stop it dipping into the top corner.

The home side are beginning to warm to the task now.

GOAL: St Patricks 1 – 0 IBV (Fagan ’38)

And there is the breakthrough they craved. O’Brien got past Christiansen on the right and whipped a brilliant low cross in along the six yard line. Fagan managed to shake himself free to arrive unmarked with a right-footed finish above the sprawling Dihara.
That should settle plenty of nerves.

That man Aaron Spear is on. We didn’t see Christian Olsen injured so it could well be an instant tactical reaction to going behind.

HALF TIME: St Patricks Athletic 1 – 0 IBV

Half time is greeted with a cheer, but it only comes after a chorus of boos greet the tannoy announcement: the back door of McDowell’s is not open tonight.

Pfft, that’s UEFA killjoys for you!

Time for some half time analysis from a man who’s supposed to be on his day off. Gluton for punishment.

The Super-Saints are back on the field, followed almost a full minute later by the visitors.

The second half is underway.

The second half was not even 30 seconds old when Dean Kelly was getting ready to take the field. He is replacing the goalscorer Christy Fagan.

Fagan must have injured himself in the first half because he barely hobbled his way from halfway to the 18 yard line before Kelly was introduced.

It’s been a subdued beginning to the second half, bar an attempt at a bicycle kick from Meenan and an Icelandic woman who will not refrain from repeating the same five-syllable phrase at 15 second intervals.

Kenny Browne has been much improved this half. Twice he has showed poise under pressure. Taking a hip high ball away from danger on the half way line.

As we cross the hour mark, it’s worth pointing out that when these sides met at this stage last season, Pats needed a 2-0 home win to overturn the first leg defeat.

They are, of course, a better side than they were 12 months ago, but another goal to lean on would be invaluable.

Referee Igor Satchi has been quite lenient with Matt Garner there. The English defender came sliding in from behind on Meenan. He got a yellow and O’Connor blazed the free-kick well wide of the mark.

We’re still awaiting a shot on target or any genuine opportunity in the second half.

He’s not long on the field, but Dean Kelly looks to be injured – at least I’m giving him some benefit of the doubt – as the home side broke he laid the ball off to Chambers who released O’Connor down the left.

In a two-on-two break you’d have expected Kelly to bust a gut to provide some angle for a diagonal in behind, but it never came. Instead, he sauntered up field and even stood off when the defender eventually regained possession.

As they did in the first half, Pats are just beginning to turn up the heat on IBV. Dihara needed to be at full stretch to get fingertips on a floated cross towards the back post. The white jerseys remain tightly packed. They’ll be happy to take the minimum deficit back home.

Arnor Eyar Olafsson is on, he replaces Tonny Mawajje. The IBV coach may well have had a different man in mind to give the shepherd’s crook, but Mawajje looked to have pulled a hamstring trying to close down an O’Brien clearance.

Just over five minutes remain and in 10 minutes this game will be best forgotten. Credit the visitors for that, thay have sat back and made life exceedingly difficult for Pats.

Only now are they making any sort of late push and they posed real threat when the ball fell to Baldock at the edge of the box. He volleyed 10 metres wide.

Anto Flood comes on to make his debut. Sean O’Connor makes way.

Flood’s introduction has added another couple of decibels to the crowd noise and Pats are piling on the pressure. Five or six shots rained in on goal, Kelly curled in the last and came closest forcing Dihara into a smart save low to his right hand post.

Three added minutes.

FULL TIME: St Patrick’s 1 – 0 IBV

Anto Flood has already ingratiated himself with the home support, showing some neat touches to relieve some of IBV’s late pressure. However, he could not turn the possession into any more incisive openings and the came comes to an end.

The tie remains tightly poised.

The same can be said of Bohemians across town. They have played out a disappointing 0 – 0 draw with Thor from Iceland’s second tier.

Well that’s it from me on a mixed night of Irish football, we hope you enjoyed the coverage a lot more than many supporters here enjoyed the second half.

Be sure to check back on for all the Airtricity League build up ahead of tomorrow’s fixtures – including Ben Blake’s weekly player interview. This week he meets some of the league’s new faces.

About the author:

Sean Farrell