Timely score feast as Drogs unleash friendly firepower
SSE Airtricity League 2019: Drogheda Utd 6 Drogheda Town 3
The goals were flying in from all angles at DIFE last Wednesday night as Drogheda United fought off a second-half fightback from Leinster Senior League neighbours Town to complete their pre-season on a high note.
Drogs manager Tim Clancy won't be too happy that his team conceded a couple of sloppy goals, but on the flip side they found their shooting boots after scoring just twice in four previous games against Dundalk, Derry City, Finn Harps and Republic of Ireland Under-19s.
This was pretty much a full-strength United starting XI, while Town boss Robbie Horgan was mindful of his team having played a cup tie two nights earlier, with another league game to follow on the Friday.
Perhaps still feeling the effects of the Monday night game, Town started sluggishly and the League of Ireland club took full advantage by scoring twice inside the first five minutes.
Chris Lyons ran onto a Mark Hughes pass and slotted neatly past goalkeeper Ruairi McDaid from eight yards, and then Mark Doyle supplied Adam Wixted whose deep cross was volleyed in by Sean Brennan from close range for 2-0.
Wixted had two more chances before unselfishly teeing up Doyle for United's third goal in the 21st minute, Brennan then volleyed over the bar from 25 yards after Thomas Byrne had lofted a corner kick towards him and right-back James Brown got a decent shot away after a lung-busting run from half-way.
However, the play was much more even in the latter stages of the first period and Drogs keeper Paul Skinner saved from Roy Kierans and Jordan Kelly before going full-length to his right to keep out a well-directed Kelly header.
United made three changes at the break and perhaps they were still settling down when the Leinster Senior League side almost scored in the 49th minute. Marty Walsh's shot from 18 yards took a slight deflection and bounced off the upright and away for a corner kick.
However, normal service was resumed in the 53rd minute when a superb move involving Wixted and Doyle ended with the latter crossing for substitute Stephen Meaney who dinked a lovely finish past McDaid for 4-0.
United certainly seemed to take their foot off the pedal at that stage and Town somehow lifted themselves and made a real fight of it.
Centre-half Dave McTeggart nodded in what looked like a consolation goal on 55 minutes and Skinner then spread himself well to keep out a Walsh effort after a great move involving Kelly and Thomas O'Connell.
Poor defending from a long throw then resulted in a second Town goal just after the hour mark, with McTeggart looping another fine header just beyond the reach of Skinner - 4-2.
Three subs then combined to create a chance for United, with Eoin McPhillips and Meaney setting up the on-rushing Janabi Amour whose shot was pushed round the post by McDaid.
United then made absolutely sure of victory with two more goals in a minute. Conor Kane burst down the left onto a McPhillips pass and crossed towards Meaney who slotted neatly past the Town keeper, and then Amour raced down the right flank and delivered a cross which seemed to get a touch off a defender for an own goal.
Town, though, weren't quite finished yet, and a Skinner clearance from close to the corner flag was collected by O'Connell who promptly sent the ball towards the empty United net. The retreating Skinner made a miraculous finger-tip save onto the post, but lone striker Kelly was following up and managed to bundle the ball in for a deserved goal to make it 6-3.
In the latter stages Luke Heeney had an effort saved by McDaid and Meaney went close to completing his hat-trick, but a seventh goal would have been harsh on Town. What the scoreline says about United isn't clear, but Lyons, Doyle and Meaney will all gain a bit of confidence from getting on the scoresheet, and a special mention for Under-19s player James Clarke who looked very accomplished when he came on from the bench to play in the heart of midfield in the second half.
DROGHEDA UNITED: Paul Skinner; James Brown (Luke Heeney 46), Luke Gallagher (Sean Trimble 63), Luke McNally, Conor Kane; Sean Brennan, Mark Hughes (Jordan Adeyemo 65); Adam Wixted (Janabi Amour 63), Thomas Byrne (James Clarke 46), Mark Doyle (Eoin McPhillips 65); Chris Lyons (Stephen Meaney 46). Sub not used: Daniel Grace.
DROGHEDA TOWN: Ruairi McDaid; Andy Hickey, Dave McTeggart, Ciaran Cluskey Kelly, Stephen Doran (Thomas O'Connell 49), Eoghan Breathnach (Sanele Duma 78); Marty Walsh (Conor Smith 82), Dean Haggins (Sean Caffrey 65), Roy Kierans, Sam Reilly; Jordan Kelly (Dean Clarke 84). Subs not used: Kevin Dunne, Alex Reilly.