In a dramatic day in the Premier Division Sporting Fingal produced two goals in the last five minutes to knock Shamrock Rovers from their perch at the top of the league, sending Bohemians to the summit with just two league games remaining.
In Saturday’s early game, Bohemians travelled to Richmond Park to face St. Patrick’s Athletic. Following their vital win over Shamrock Rovers last week, the Gypsies knew that if they beat the Saints they could go top of the table, for awhile at least. Both sides took time to settle into the game, and it was a controversial penalty decision that brought Bohs into the ascendancy. With 25 minutes gone, Bohs winger Killian Brennan raced into the box chasing a high ball. Pat’s defender Noel Haverty jumped to win the ball and Brennan went down. The challenge looked a fair one, but much to the anger of the Pat’s crowd the Referee pointed to the spot. Brennan took the penalty but Pat’s keeper Chris Bennion saved brilliantly. Raff Cretaro reacted quickest and smashed the rebound into the net. Later on in the half, Cretaro dispatched a 20 yard volley that crashed off the crossbar. A few minutes into the second half it was Pat’s turn to be denied by the crossbar. Good work on the wing saw Pat’s striker Vinny Faherty picked out in the box, only for the striker to fire against the crossbar from 15 yards out. The rest of the match proved to be a rather lacklustre affair, although Barry Murphy pulled off two crucial saves towads the end of the game to see Bohemians hold onto their 1-0 lead.
Knowing that Bohemians early victory had sent them top of the league, Shamrock Rovers began their match against Sporting Fingal with an urgency to regain the top spot. And it paid off, as the Hoops took the lead in the 13th minute when Gary Twigg was sent through on goal and unselfishly squared the ball to strike partner Tommy Stewart who rolled the ball into the net. Rovers had the chance to put further distance between themselves and Fingal when a penalty was awarded in the 64th minute when Chris Turner was taken down. Turner took the penalty, but could only hit the woodwork. It was a miss that came back to haunt Rovers. Poor defending from Stephen Rice allowed Fingal striker Gary O’Neill to nip in and dink the ball over Rovers keeper Alan Mannus. It was an undeserved equalizer for Fingal, and it was all the more harsh on Rovers considering it came in the 87th minute. A draw wouldn’t have turned out to be a total disaster for the Hoops, as they would’ve retained their place at the top of the table through a superior goal difference. But, in the 89th minute, former Bohs striker Glen Crowe sent his old team to the summit after his effort from the edge of the box deflected past Alan Mannus and into the net to give Fingal a 2-1 victory.
Shamrock Rovers were seven points ahead of Bohemians just three weeks ago, but now they somehow find themselves two points behind the champions with just two games left to play. The title is now in Bohemians’ hands as they look to achieve a historic three-in-a-row.
Sligo Rovers moved three points ahead of St. Patrick’s Athletic in the battle for third spot, following their 4-2 win away from home against Dundalk. The match hinged on the decision to send off Dundalk full back Wayne Hatswell in the 39th minute, for what appeared to be a nothing challenge. Matthew Blinkhorn, Richie Ryan, Alan Keane and Joey Ndo grabbed the goals for Sligo, and the Reds must be confident of securing third place.
UCD thrashed Galway United 4-1 away from home. Keith Ward scored a hat-trick from midfield as the Students have all but assured that Galway will now face a relegation playoff against either Bray Wanderers or Drogheda United.
The two bottom sides, Bray Wanderers and Drogheda United, met in Wicklow on Sunday. Drogheda took an early lead but Bray equalised from the spot towards the end of the first half. The game finished 1-1, a result which leaves Drogheda in need of a miracle if they’re to avoid automaitc relegation.
Friday, October 15th
Sporting Fingal v Galway United
UCD v Dundalk