Dundalk boss Foster relieved after late gaffe salvages draw
CS Grevenmacher 3
DUNDALK marked their first European appearance in eight years with a thrilling draw against CS Grevenmacher in Luxembourg City last night.
While many Dundalk fans would gladly have taken three away goals to take back to Oriel Park for the Europa League qualifying round second leg next Thursday, Lilywhites boss Ian Foster may not share that view.
Foster's side held a two-goal lead following goals from Fahrudin Kuduzovic and Wayne Hatswell but they saw that advantage wiped out by three Grevenmacher goals in the space of 12 minutes. It took a fortunate own goal by Khalid Benichou, 11 minutes from the end, to salvage a share of the spoils.
Kuduzovic put Dundalk into the lead after 26 minutes. The Bosnian linked up brilliantly with Neale Fenn on the edge of the box and just when it looked like like Khalid Benichou had closed him down, he fired a left-footed shot that crept inside Marc Pleiming's post.
Kuduzovic looked dangerous throughout the first half and he almost doubled his tally when he skipped past Tim Heinz only to see his effort brilliantly saved by Pleiming and Ross Gaynor then smashed the rebound across the face of goal.
The Luxembourg outfit controlled possession after Kuduzovic's strike and they had alarm bells ringing in the Dundalk defence on the stroke of half-time when Johnathon Furst smacked the post with a 20-yard effort.
Dundalk got off to a dream start in the second half when Hatswell headed home a second away goal following a Gaynor corner, but they were pegged back as the home side upped their game considerably. The Dundalk back four were coming under more pressure as Adrian Baur missed a glorious opportunity to score. But then Heinz pulled them back into the match with a stunning header in the 63rd minute.
The equaliser came 10 minutes later. Gabriel Gaspar was allowed travel 40 yards before collecting a return pass from Sebastien Hoffman, his 25-yard shot finding Matt Gregg's bottom corner.
The former Bohemians goalkeeper then should have done better to prevent substitute Almeida's left-footed effort from finding the top corner. And with 15 minutes to go, Dundalk were suddenly staring defeat in the face.
They were rescued with an equaliser just four minutes later, an effort that certainly won't win any goal-of-the-season awards. Alan Cawley's corner from the left bounced and bobbled around the Grevenmacher six-yard box, Gaspar tried to clear but saw his effort rebound off the unfortunate Benichou to find the back of the net.
CS GREVENMACHER -- Pleiming; Gaspar, Heinz, Benichou, Hoffman; Baur (Igor 90), Hartung, Furst, Mendes (Almeida 67); Lovadi, Muller (Braun 82).
DUNDALK -- Gregg; Kelly, G Breen, Hatswell, Murphy (McGuigan 63); Miller, Cawley, Maher; Kuduzovic, Fenn, Gaynor (McGowan 78).
REF -- E Aleckovic (Bosnia).