Brave Saints give Dinamo Minsk huge fright but bow out of Europa League
St Patrick's Athletic 0 Dinamo Minsk 1 (Minsk advance 1-2 on agg)
So near and yet so far. St. Pat's went crashing out of Europe by the narrowest of margins and they will look back at this tie as another one that got away.
Dinamo Minsk have qualified for the group stages of the Europa League for the last two years and while they were technically better than Pat’s, they were by no means the fearsome force that their European record may suggest.
The Belarussian outfit changed their manager since last week’s 1-1 first leg draw and had Pat’s been able to capitalise on their early nerves at Richmond Park, it might have been a different outcome than the 2-1 aggregate defeat that followed.
Minsk took 15 minutes to settle into the game and three minutes after doing so, Pat’s fell behind to Gleb Rassadkin’s goal.
Saints trailed 1-0 at the break but they had Brendan Clarke to thank for still being in the tie after he pulled off four top class saves.
Pat’s enjoyed plenty of possession but they only tested the visiting ‘keeper once in the 90 minutes.
Liam Buckley’s side had started brightly and exposed plenty of frailties in the middle of the Minsk defence but they couldn’t find a way through.
Graham Kelly volleyed harmlessly over after Christy Fagan had cleverly taken a quick free kick and played Ian Bermingham down the left flank.
Those early Minsk nerves quickly faded though and their threat on the break forced Conan Byrne and Billy Dennehy to play deep.
Oleksandr Noyok 30-yard drive after 15 minutes was arrowing towards the top corner but Clarke brilliantly kept it out.
The Pat’s ‘keeper was called upon a minute later when slack marking in front of him allowed Aleksandr Sverchinski a free header but he brought out the best in Clarke again as he tipped it over.
The warnings were blatant but the Saints were powerless to deny Minsk grabbing the opener a minute later.
They failed to defend a corner and after a near post flick on, Rassadkin gave Clarke no chance with a neat finish into the corner.
Billy Dennehy did his best to pull Pat’s back into it but his long-range effort whistled narrow over the cross-bar.
Pat’s didn’t learn their lesson from Noyok’s earlier stunning hit and the centre-half forced another top save from Clarke after 23 minutes.
The home side were restricted to long range shots and Kelly’s effort again failed to test the visiting ‘keeper but they were almost gifted a way back into the game when Vladimir Korytko’s header hit his own cross-bar and went over.
There was still time left in a pulsating half for Clarke to keep his side in it with a fourth outstanding save – this time from Mohammed El Monir’s shot.
Having almost scored at same end for his own side in the first half, Korytko should have killed off Pat’s but he couldn’t finish off a sweeping move.
The Inchicore crowd found their voice, not least because of the amount of rash challenges that Minsk were putting in but they almost had a real reason to cheer just after the hour mark.
Keith Treacy put in a great delivery from a free kick and Darren Dennehy rose highest at the back post to head the ball across goal and his brother Billy was inches away from poking it home.
The home crowd were up on their feet 10 minutes from time when Treacy’s shot was spilled and Fagan followed in the rebound but Sergei Ignatovich gathered at the second attempt.
A shemozzle ensued with the Minsk players incensed by Fagan’s follow through. The striker who worked tirelessly all night was entitled to go for the ball however.
Minsk substitute Vladimir Khvaschinski had been warming up behind the goal and needlessly got involved in the melee and he was shown a red card his involvement.
In the end Minsk’s had just enough to advance but for Pat’s, this was another near European chance gone and it was one that they were certainly good enough to take.
St. Pat’s – Clarke; O’Brien (c), D Dennehy, Hoare, Bermingham; Kelly (Cawley 68), Treacy; Byrne (Corcoran 89), Timlin (McGrath 61), B Dennehy; Fagan.
Dinamo Minsk – Igantovich, Astraukh, Sverchinski, Noyok, Habovda; Kaplenko; Korytko, Bykov; El Monir (Premudrov 90), Rassadkin (Rotkovic 58), Zhukovski (c) (Shramchenko 78).
REF: A M Sant (Malta)