UCD AFC will leave the Belfield bowl with mixed emotions, having succumbed to a late pressure attack by Bohemians, resulting in a 2-2 draw. The students took a two goal lead early in the first half, but two dramatic goals by substitute Dave Scully, both of them coming in injury-time, gave Bohemians an undeserved share of the spoils.
UCD had amassed five wins in six games, and following this draw, appear to have maintained their Airtricity Premier League status for another year. Bohemians, meanwhile, stand in sixth position following their strong second half performance, using UCD’s lack of purpose to their own advantage.
The opening quarter was very one-sided, with UCD employing a strong 4-4-2 formation. The Students combined some effective passing and with a dominance of possession. Their dominance was rewarded almost immediately, as their opponents found themselves a man and a goal down within the first five minutes.
Defender Kevin Feely stumbled attempting to control a long ball, tripping Danny Ledwith in the process, resulting in an immediate red card. The resulting free-kick sailed into the roof of the net from the boot of Ledwith.
With ten men, Bohemians suffered a clear drop in morale. A shaky, unstructured defence led to Ledwith to narrowly missing another free-kick. Dean Clarke provided pressure and space on the right wing, as UCD played a patient and structured game. Barry McCabe went close with a long range effort, again utilising the full space created on the right wing.
Bohemians’ defence remained nervous and edgy, switching to a flat back four. They looked uneasy in comparison to the solid offence mounted by the Students, although UCD were very fortunate to go two goals ahead. Paul O’Conor’s 40-yard shot was deflected in after David McMillon was caught wrong-footed, sending keeper Greg Murphy scrambling.
The goal kept UCD in firm control, with a Dean Clarke cross from behind securing a corner for the home side. This was followed by a header from UCD captain Mick Leahy, which was just off target, followed up by a threatening twenty-yard strike, courtesy of Barry McCabe.
From this, Bohemians made their first real attempt of the match, with Karl Moore attempting a counter-attack, but to no avail. A James Kavanagh foul resulted in a free-kick, which allowed John O’Connor to fire a threatening shot straight into UCD’s danger zone. Following this, Kavanagh was replaced by Derek Pender, as Bohemians attempted to align and recover fully.
Sean Stuart was fouled on the right hand side, resulting in a rather weak-willed free-kick for Bohemians, which Stuart attempted to rectify minutes later with a disappointing shot from a distance. What followed was a rather scrappy affair. David O’Connor and captain Mick Leahy failed in their efforts to smother the still-rattled Bohemian defence.
An isolated Dean Clarke could do very little for the remaining portion of the game, having to watch his UCD teammate Hughie Douglas tap the ball over from three yards from a corner. A clumsy tackle to Bohemians’ Owen Heary set up a free-kick, taken by Ryan McEvoy just before the half time whistle. Bohemians appeared to have woken up in the latter portion, yet it was a dominating first half for the Students.
There were more fouls on show than passes in the opening minutes of the second half and it wasn’t long before a mix up in the Bohemians defence resulted in a free-kick that was typical of the directionless play of both sides.
After a few minutes, Bohemians began to rectify for the opening 45 with jab after jab to the UCD defence, with Ryan McEvoy taking two free kicks within a matter of minutes, and linking well with Evan McMillan to create a chance for Derek Pender. His looping header couldn’t quite find its target, but it was a statement of intent.
For UCD, Dean Clarke and Dave McMillon both had chances that slipped by them, whilst Bohemians Sean Stuart fired back with a clean 25 yard right footed strike that went just passed the left-hand post, Stuart was subsequently substituted in favour of Dinny Corcoran.
The crowd could feel the momentum build for Bohemians as UCD began to look off balance, almost drunk, on their 2-0 lead. Bohemians remained frustrated for an elusive goal that would help them claw their way back into the game.
UCD’s attack had one more spike of notable activity; Paul O’Conor’s 35-yard shot from a broken period of play was followed by a series of ferocious UCD shots, with Danny Ledwith the playmaker.
Dave Scully finally got the goal to bring Bohs back in to the game. His goal came thanks to a fluidity and technique from an opening left by Pender that fully eclipsed the now cruising nature of the UCD side.
Soon after, the comeback was complete when Dave Scully headed the equaliser into the UCD net in the fourth minute of added time. His 25 minute cameo was enough to earn Bohemians a point and deny UCD an important win.
UCD are bound to wonder exactly how they let go of a two goal lead, while questions will be raised on behalf of the Bohemians defence and how they shipped two goals to the Students. Either way, UCD would have taken a point had it been offered before the game.
UCD : Barron; Douglas (Russell 80), Leahy, D O’Connor, Nangle; Clarke (Mulhall 71), P O’Conor, McCabe (Kavanagh 58), Ledwith; D.McMillan, Benson.
BOHEMIANS : Murphy; Heary, Feely, Lopez; Barker, McEvoy, Mulcahy, J O’Connor (Pender 28), Moore (Corcoran 65); E McMillan, Devenney (Scully 65).
Booked: Pender, Sent-off: Feely.
Man of the match: Dave Scully
Match report by Jack Walsh