Tuesday 23 January 2018

Fagan delivers crucial blow as slick Saints pass way into strong position

St Patrick's Athletic 1 IBV 0

This was another pleasant European night on the banks of the Camac.



St Patrick's Athletic's recent history is sprinkled with interesting Inchicore encounters and the latest addition to the list ended with an encouraging win.

Perhaps it is a small sign of the progress that has been made in the past five years that a Europa League first qualifying round first-leg success over Icelandic opposition is now expected, but Pat's took care of their business with a disciplined display.

Despite a couple of scares in the first half, the opening period provided further evidence of the Saints' clever passing game. Liam Buckley's preferred 4-3-3 formation allowed his side to enjoy plenty of possession.

However, for all the locals' probing it was the visitors who nearly took a 12th-minute lead against the run of play.

Christian Olsen's looping volley shaved the woodwork and then eight minutes later Conor Kenna had to be sharp to make a tackle to thwart Tryggvi Gudmundsson following a neat build-up featuring Brynjar Gudjonsson and Ian Jeffs.

Then the Saints started to probe again as a long-range Seanie O'Connor drive was saved by Abel Dihara, before the goal was bagged in the 38th minute.

James Chambers' brave challenge ensured Ger O'Brien was able to send in an inviting right-wing cross for Christy Fagan, who delivered an opportunistic close-range finish. Richmond Park rocked as the Saints' smart style was rewarded.

After the restart it was tight and tense as IBV improved and Pat's didn't cause them too many problems even if Chambers, Greg Bolger and John Russell's effectiveness never waned. Two minutes from time substitute Dean Kelly had a shot gathered by Dihara, but the Saints had done enough and will now head for Iceland with something to protect.

St Patrick's Athletic -- Clarke; O'Brien, Kenna, Browne, Bermingham; Chambers, Bolger, Russell; Meenan, Fagan (D Kelly 48), O'Connor (Flood 87).

IBV -- Dihara; Baldock, Gudjonsson, Christiansen, Garner; Jeffs (Thorvardarson 89), Thorarinsson, Valdimarsson, Mawejje (Olafsson 82); Gudmundsson, Olsen (Spear 43).

Ref -- I Satchi (Moldova).

Irish Independent

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