Friday 23 August 2019

Dundalk go down to late goal against Slovan Bratislava but it's all to play for in second leg

Slovan Bratislava 1 Dundalk 0

Marin Ljubicic of SK Slovan Bratislava in action against Jamie McGrath of Dundalk
Marin Ljubicic of SK Slovan Bratislava in action against Jamie McGrath of Dundalk

Aidan Fitzmaurice in Bratislava

Dundalk fell just short, by five minutes and one goal, in their bid to hold off the threat of Slovan Bratislava and try to keep their European run going.

The Co Louth club had to withstand long spells of attacking football by the home side in Bratislava, and they also benefited from the decisions by French referee Frank Schneider who denied three possible penalty claims for Slovan.

And just when it seemed as if Dundalk would get a 0-0 draw to take back home for the second leg in Tallaght Stadium next week, Hungarian international David Holman scored five minutes from time to put Slovan in the driving seat, Dundalk without a goal for the fourth successive away game in Europe, though they had chances, sub Daniel Kelly almost nicking a late equaliser.

The home side had near constant possession for the first half hour of this tie, their first threat on 12 minutes when Gary Rogers had to save from Moha and the Moroccan came up with another effort on 28 minutes after some good work by Brazilian import Rafael Ratao

Dundalk weathered that storm and came up with a good spell of their own, John Mountney feeding the ball to Michael Duffy and his shot, on the half-hour mark, forced keeper Dominik Greif into his first save of that game. He conceded a corner and from that, Andy Boyle got his head to Sean Murray's set piece but the effort was blocked on the line.

Slovan responded, Marin Ljubcic with a chance which went wide and Moha was there again on 38 minutes, Slovan getting possession after Duffy lost the ball, but Moha's chance was wide of the target./

Frustrated with that scoreless first half, Slovan looked determined from the restart, though they had an appeal for a penalty, after an apparent hand ball by Boyle, waved away by the French referee.

Slovan pushed again and on 48 minutes Dundalk needed a save from Rogers and a block from Boyle to keep out Moha and Ratao, Jurji Medvedev then hitting the side netting from the rebound.

Dundalk almost scored on the break on 61 minutes, Hoban's pass into the box falling for Jamie McGrath but his effort was not enough to trouble Greif.

The referee enraged the home support when denying two more penalty claims, both for hand ball in the box by Boyle, as keeper Rogers was showered with objects from by home supporters who demanded a spot kick, Rogers the Dundalk hero on 71 minutes with a point-blank save from Mynty Abena's header.

But Rogers was finally beaten on 85 minutes as a strike from sub Dejan Drazic hit the post and Holman was free to send home the rebound, Slovan finally breaking the away side's resistance.

The sides meet again in the second leg at Tallaght Stadium next Tuesday. The winners of this tie play the losing side from the Champions League game between Ajax and PAOK, those teams playing out a 2-2 draw in the first leg, in Greece, on Tuesday.

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