Killian Woods, Belfield Bowl
UCD 1-2 Bohemians
UCD’s opening home game of the season marked the return of club captain Evan McMillan from a long injury lay off. The experienced centre back suffered a bad knee injury in UCD’s penultimate game of last season and has been on the mend ever since.
Even though the defender had only resumed training a week before the opening game against Drogheda, and despite having no match practice prior to this the second league game of the season, McMillan slotted straight into the heart of the Student’s defence. He was an ever present throughout the game and didn’t look a yard off the pace.
McMillan’s valiant efforts along with his centre back partner Boyle kept the Bohemian attackers at bay for the majority of the game. Their solid pairing was the backbone of the Student’s decent display against last year’s league champions and was a huge positive for UCD manager Martin Russell to take from the game.
The match got off to a slow start, with the boisterous UCD and Bohemian fans in attendance giving a good account of themselves. In the opening fifteen minutes, Bohemians could have claimed to be on top of their opponents after crafting three half chances to give UCD an early scare. However, their marginal dominance did not last long as UCD made use of their speedy wingers Rusk and Mulhall to try and open up the Bohemian defence.
As the game continued, neither side was able to take the initiative and stamp their superiority on the game. Bohemians created another chance after good work down the right wing eventually saw the ball crossed into the box, only for the low drive to be cleared over the bar by McMillan.
Bohemians looked likely to build on this decent play as they began to string some passes together. Although they gave UCD a good demonstration in possession football, the away side lacked the final pass to open up the UCD defence.
As they continued to grow into the game, Bohemians began to boss proceedings just before half time. A goal looked likely before the break and only gritty defensive play on the goal line helped UCD deny their visitors as the two teams went into half time with the game scoreless.
UCD started the second half with many flashes of ingenuity as lone striker, Ciaran Kilduff, and the two wingers, Rusk and Mulhall began to link up in the final third of the field. The three young players managed to sustain this effective team play for large periods of the second half and eventually created a chance to score the opening goal.
Chris Mulhall, playing on the right wing of UCD’s midfield, found himself free after beating his marker, Conor Powell, and threaded a neat pass into the path of Kilduff only for the striker to be taken down by Bohemians goalkeeper Chris O’Connor. The referee awarded the penalty and Greg Bolger stepped up and scored from the spot to give the Students the lead after 58 minutes.
This goal took a lot of pace out of the Bohemians attack and somewhat shocked the current champions. Manager Pat Fenlon reacted by making a flurry of substitutions, which saw the entrance of Rafael Cretaro, Jason Byrne and Anto Murphy.
UCD’s cause was made all the more difficult after the Bolger was sent off after 67 minutes. His penalisation for kicking the ball away merited, in the eyes of the referee, a second booking for the midfielder. The decision could be considered unfair after numerous similar acts by the Bohemians players at a later stage in the game remained unpunished.
The sending off took the wind out of the Student’s sails and forced the college to sit deep and soak up Bohemians mounting pressure. UCD’s backline continued to defend their line with great heart and looked as strong as ever. However, Bohemians wasted two great chances to level the game.
Firstly UCD’s Andy Boyle blocked a goal-bound shot from Mark Quigley, and then Gareth McGlynn missed a guilt edge chance at the back post. By the 79 minute, an equalizer looked imminent as UCD began sit deeper and deeper to consolidate their lead.
From a long ball downfield from the Bohemians goalkeeper, Quigley laid the ball back to substitute Byrne to fire home the leveling score from just outside the box. This goal demoralized the college ranks and had a knock on effect a minute later when Bohemians struck again.
After the kick off, Bohemians won possession and sent substitute Rafael Cretaro storming through the Student’s half. UCD’s defenders continued to back off the attacker and he made them pay for their error as he carefully curled a shot to the left of UCD keeper Billy Brennan to give the away side the lead.
Down to ten men and losing to a decent Bohemians side, UCD could not reverse the deficit and had to settle for a hard lesson learnt. The Students gave a good account of themselves against one of the strongest teams in the league and although they may have been restrained at times, they showed great team ethic and proved they can play with the big boys.
Quick verdict: Deserved at least a point from the game.
University Observer MOTM: Andy Boyle – repelled numerous Bohemians attacks
UCD: Brennan; Shorthall ( Leahy ’66), Boyle, E McMillan, Nangle; Bolger, Ward (Creevy), Roche, Rusk (McMillan ’84), Mulhall; Kilduff. Subs not used: Fitzgerald, McGinlay..
Bohemians: O’Connor; Heary, Gray (Byrne ’76), Shelly (A Murphy’ 58), Powell; McGlynn, Cronin, Keegan, Brennan; Quigley, Madden (Cretaro ’61). Subs not used: B Murphy, Higgins.