Killian puts knife in to Drogs
DROGHEDA United fans experienced the full spectrum of emotions as a 92nd-minute Killian Brennan penalty denied the Boynesiders at the death.
The penalty, coming in controversial circumstances, was awarded 60 seconds after Ryan Brennan acrobatically volleyed in a 91st-minute leveller after Christy Fagan had put Pats ahead nine minutes from the end of normal time.
It's only the second defeat in the league for Mick Cooke's side, but they have slipped to seventh in the table, just behind their Setanta Cup opponents Shamrock Rovers, but the real talking point from the game was the performance of Tom Connolly. The referee made a series of questionable calls before awarding Pats the winning penalty, which replays suggest shouldn't have been awarded.
Cooke range the changes from the side which drew 2-2 with Bohemians on Friday, with Declan O'Brien, Stephen Quigley, Ryan Brennan and Alan Byrne all returning to the starting XI, and it was the homeside who started the brighter.
Ryan Brennan showed no family sentiment in the second minute when he robbed his brother Killian of possession and played through O'Brien who in turn released Graham Rusk wide on the right, and the midfielder's ball to the back post was almost met by the in-rushing Gavin Brennan. However, this was the best chance Drogheda were to have in the opening half as Pats piled on the pressure.
Quigley left a back-pass short and Anto Flood stole in, but his shot was blocked by goalkeeper Gabriel Sava. John Russell was proving to be a real handful early on, and the Galway native held the ball up well and won a few free kicks as he enticed the Drogheda players into tackles.
Sava put some pressure on his defence with a series of mis-kicked clearances, on one occasion shanking a back-pass right into the chest of Flood and the Pats striker released Chris Forrester on the wing, but Byrne was back to cut out the cross. Byrne again came to the shot-stopper's rescue when he saw a clearance skew off the keeper's boot, and with Forrester lurking Byrne headed out for a throw-in.
Despite their domination, chances were at a real premium for St Pats, their final ball consistently letting them down, but when Russell swerved a free kick into the Drogheda box Kenny Browne rose highest to loop a header towards goal, and only for David Cassidy's presence on the line Pats would have led.
Cooke would have been glad to get his side in at the break still level at 0-0 and Drogheda certainly showed some urgency after the break, but again it was Pats who threatened and from a corner Sava mis-judged the bounce of the ball and Gavin Brennan had to clear off the line.
However, against the run of play Drogheda were handed a lifeline when on 71 minutes Ryan Brennan squared a ball into the box and Killian Brennan attempted to control the ball, only for it to bounce up and hit his hand. Mr Connolly pointed to the spot and up stepped O'Brien, but the talisman striker - who has netted four penalties so far this season - pulled his effort to the left and the game remained level.
It actually looked as if it was heading for a stalemate when on 81 minutes Ger O'Brien angled a pass to the back post and Fagan popped up to stab the ball home and send the large travelling contingent into raptures.
Drogheda had another penalty shout on 85 minutes when a high ball was watched all the way by Brendan Clarke, but he failed to punch clear and Peter Hynes hooked a shot over his head which appeared to come off a Pats hand.
Drogheda did level in the first minute of injury time when a Rory Delap-esque throw from Byrne resulted in a bout of head tennis in the Pats box and the ball dropped to Ryan Brennan and he fired home to level matters.
But with time running out Ger O'Brien looped a ball to the edge of the box and Fagan seemed to control the ball with his hand. Standing only yards away, Connolly pointed to the spot, clearly thinking that Byrne had been the player to handle. Sava guess right, but Killian Brennan's spot kick had put too much power to give the keeper any chance as Pats saw out the win which moves them up to joint second.