Drogheda Independent

| 16.9°C Dublin

Empty feeling as dull friendly fails to sparkle

Soccer friendlies: Drogheda Utd 1 Shelbourne 2

Close

Drogheda United’s Killian Phillips and James Brown put their best foot forward along with Shelbourne striker Ciaran Kilduff during their friendly on Saturday
afternoon. Picture: Larry McQuillan

Drogheda United’s Killian Phillips and James Brown put their best foot forward along with Shelbourne striker Ciaran Kilduff during their friendly on Saturday afternoon. Picture: Larry McQuillan

Drogheda United’s Killian Phillips and James Brown put their best foot forward along with Shelbourne striker Ciaran Kilduff during their friendly on Saturday afternoon. Picture: Larry McQuillan

No disrespect to the two teams who managed to produce a friendly which was somewhere approaching competitive match intensity - but let's hope that games minus any paying spectators will not become the new norm.

Drogheda United and Shelbourne were continuing their preparations for the SSE Airtricity League's restart this week when they met at United Park on Saturday, and the 90 minutes won't live long in the memory.

Friendlies can be difficult to watch at the best of times, but when the main stand is shared only by a handful of masked members of the media, along with the match substitutes dotted around either side of them, you can get a feeling for what the 'atmosphere' was like.

Tactics and how well they are applied will always be vital components in a side's success or otherwise, but until fans are allowed back into stadia then a team's ability to play in top gear for 90 minutes without a '12th man' driving them on will also be a key attribute.

Perhaps the substitutes themselves will be able to help in that regard by doing their best to 'raise the roof', starting in Tallaght Stadium next Sunday when the Drogs resume their league campaign against Shamrock Rovers II.

Ideally the Boynesiders would have been facing a stronger Shelbourne selection at the weekend, but Ian Morris had selected his first XI the night before against Linfield and so it was a largely second string side who featured in United Park.

Drogheda were along more familiar lines, although as a precaution neither Chris Lyons (illness) nor Hugh Douglas (hamstring) featured and after only 23 minutes they lost another centre-half, Jack Tuite, to a knee problem.

The Boynesiders had made a bright start, with Derek Prendergast heading over the bar from a corner kick and Mark Hughes testing the Shels keeper Jack Brady with a long-range free kick.

At the the other end David Odumosu made a fine save to his left to keep out an Alex Cetiner shot and Karl Moore fired just wide from 18 yards.

Just past the half-hour Drogheda got their noses in front from the penalty spot. The home side were passing the ball around in their own half as Shelbourne pressed hard, but they turned defence into attack when Prendergast suddenly launched a long delivery for the onrushing Jordan Adeyemo who got in behind the Shels back four before being brought down by the advancing Brady.

A spot kick was awarded and Adeyemo quickly grabbed hold of the ball before sending Brady the wrong way for his second goal in two days.

The scorer should have doubled his tally only three minutes later when Shels lost possession cheaply and Mark Doyle attacked before releasing Adeyemo who teased his way into the box before ballooning the ball over the bar from 10 yards.

Luke Heeney, who had replaced Tuite earlier, made a vital block in the 38th minute from a shot by Moore as the Drogs reached half-time with their lead still intact.

On the restart they had further chances to add to their advantage, starting with a Doyle header that failed to trouble Brady, following a James Brown cross.

Drogheda put together their best move of the match on the hour mark. Brown and Killian Phillips worked the ball out of defence towards James Clarke who dribbled forward menacingly before releasing Brandon Bermingham down the left flank. The former schools international arrowed in a perfect low cross towards the near post, but at full stretch Stephen Meaney just failed to connect with the goal gaping.

That proved a turning point in the match and it was Shelbourne who took command from that point, quickly drawing level as Alex O'Hanlon's long diagonal cross reached Eric Molloy who took a touch before rifling a superb angled shot into the top corner.

Moments later Phillips blocked a Jamie Henderson shot with his head and the ball bounced off the crossbar and away to safety.

Adam Wixted was off target from long range as Drogheda created one or two promising situations, only for the final pass to let them down.

When the vastly experienced Kilduff, easily the biggest name in the Shelbourne line-up, drove an angled shot across the face of goal in the 87th minute it looked like the Boynesiders might hang on for a draw.

However, they were denied in the final seconds when Kilduff, who was having a great tussle with Prendergast, out-muscled the veteran centre-half on the byeline and cut the ball back for Dayle Rooney who fired in off the post for Shelbourne's winner.

Drogheda United: David Odumosu; James Brown, Jack Tuite (Luke Heeney 23), Derek Prendergast, Conor Kane (Ryan O'Shea 55); Mark Hughes (Killian Phillips 46), Jake Hyland (Sean Brennan 55); Jordan Adeyemo (Adam Wixted 55), Richie O'Farrell (James Clarke 55), Mark Doyle (Brandon Bermingham 55); Stephen Meaney. Subs not used: Frank Cabraley, Kevin Mohammed, Ross Treacy, Luca Gratzer.

Shelbourne: Jack Brady; Eric Molloy, Daniel Byrne, Charles Mutawe, Alex O'Hanlon; Alex Cetiner (Rasaq Alama 52), Brandon Daly (Jamie Henderson 63), Sean Quinn, Dayle Rooney; Karl Moore, Ciaran Kilduff. Subs not used: Warren Curran, Shane Farrell, Ray O'Sullivan, Alan Leonard, Colm Cox.

Drogheda Independent