Fagan enters record books but St Pat’s on a tightrope
An early winner from Christy Fagan set a European scoring record for St Patrick’s Athletic at Richmond Park last night.
St Patrick's Athletic 1 Jeunesse Esch 0
But Liam Buckley’s side left themselves with a fair task as they failed to fully impose themselves on Jeunesse Esch in the first leg of their Europa League first qualifying round tie.
The Saints can expect the Luxembourg side to be a different proposition back in the Grand Duchy next week.
The tenacity and craft of Fagan brought the game’s first chance on five minutes, but his low cross had just too much pace on it for the in-rushing Graham Kelly.
Fagan broke the deadlock five minutes later to give the Inchicore side the start they would have craved.
The frame of the goal initially saved Jeunesse from Darren Dennehy’s header after Conan Byrne’s corner.
However, the big central defender gathered the rebound and crossed the ball for Fagan to score with a diving header – a strike which saw him become the club’s leading scorer in Europe with five goals.
Following a little scare, when Ken Corral’s chip scarcely troubled Brendan Clarke from Jeunesse’s first attack, Fagan just failed to connect with Kelly’s diagonal on 19 minutes.
The game became a little flat after that, but St Pat’s raised the tempo as the interval approached, with Kelly and then Fagan heading the ball wide from Ger O’Brien’s superb deliveries.
St Pat’s really should have doubled their lead on 40 minutes when Ian Bermingham met Billy Dennehy’s cross only to head the ball wide from close range.
Jeunesse enjoyed a good deal of possession early in the second half and they missed a great chance to equalise on 56 minutes.
Giancarlo Pinna’s cross was flicked on by Martin Ontiveros for striker Patrick Stumpf who somehow sliced his shot over the crossbar.
Sean Hoare had the ball in the Jeunesse net after 73 minutes only to be ruled offside before the visitors again came close to equalising, with the impressive Dennehy making a goal-line clearance to keep out a Robin Mertinitz header.
As St Pat’s pressed late on, Fagan’s powerful shot brought a smart save from Marc Oberweis, but this was a far from convincing display by Buckley’s charges and the tie remains very much in the melting pot going into the second leg.
ST Pat’s Ath – Clarke; O’Brien, Hoare, D Dennehy, Birmingham; Treacy; Cawley, Kelly; Byrne (Timlin, 60), Fagan, B Dennehy.
Jeunesse Esch – Oberweiss; Todorovic, Portier, Delgado, Lapierre; Corral (Sardaryan, 24), Ontiveros (Deidda, 80), Peters, Pinna; Mertinitz; Stumpf .
Referee – P Orel (Czech Republic).