Friday 18 October 2019

Vinny Perth upbeat despite Dundalk's Champions League stalemate with Riga at Oriel Park

Dundalk 0 FK Riga 0

John Mountney of Dundalk in action against Tomislav Saric of Riga during the UEFA Champions League First Qualifying Round 1st Leg match between Dundalk and Riga at Oriel Park in Dundalk, Co Louth. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
John Mountney of Dundalk in action against Tomislav Saric of Riga during the UEFA Champions League First Qualifying Round 1st Leg match between Dundalk and Riga at Oriel Park in Dundalk, Co Louth. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Aidan Fitzmaurice

Dundalk will look to their away form to get them into the next round of the Champions League after they were held to a scoreless draw at home to Latvian side Riga FC at Oriel Park.

Deemed as clear favourites to progress by their supporters, Dundalk found it hard to break down their Latvian visitors, as they played out a scoreless draw for the second successive home game in Europe.

Jamie McGrath came closest to scoring for the current league leaders, only for his shot on 61 minutes to be saved by keeper Roberts Ozols, while first half efforts from Sean Hoare were close but not close enough.

Riga rarely had Dundalk keeper Gary Rogers in trouble, a long-range effort from Olegs Laizans in the first half about the best they could do, though wide man Joel Bopesu should have found the target when he was set up with a good chance on 76 minutes.

Dundalk had long spells of possession but were unable to make that count, set pieces leading to those chances early on from Hoare.

Vinny Perth's game plan hit a problem late in the first half when Daniel Cleary and Chris Shields clashed heads, Shields unable to come back out for the second half as he was replaced by Andy Boyle.

Subs Boyle and Robbie Benson added something to Dundalk but they were unable to get service to Pat Hoban up front, while Riga offered little, though there was a scare in injury time when a Dean Jarvis foul gifted Riga a free-kick on the egde of the box, but ex-Reading man Deniss Rakels sent it wide.

Dundalk now prepare for the away leg in Riga next Wednesday, boss Perth hoping for more. "We haven’t conceded and we do fancy ourselves to score," Perth said. "We lacked a bit of quality but we can't be too despondent.""

Patrick McEleney of Dundalk in action against Tomislav Saric of Riga during the UEFA Champions League first qualifying round first leg at Oriel Park in Dundalk, Co Louth. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Patrick McEleney of Dundalk in action against Tomislav Saric of Riga during the UEFA Champions League first qualifying round first leg at Oriel Park in Dundalk, Co Louth. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Dundalk: Rogers; Gannon, Hoare, Cleary, Jarvis; Shields (Boyle 46); Mountney (Benson 58), McEleney, McGrath (D Kelly 80), Duffy; Hoban.

FK Riga: Ozols; Petersons, Cernomordijs, Prenga, Rugins; Laizans, Saric, Visnakovs; Roger (Rakels 77), Debelko, Bopesu.

Referee: Peter Kralović (Slovakia)

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