Dundalk 3-0 UCD AFC – After two successive 0-0 draws, UCD slumped to a heavy defeat against title aspring Dundalk in Oriel Park, reports Ryan Mackenzie
After a successful unbeaten streak that saw UCD fend off the menacing threat of Shamrock Rovers and Galway United, while also claiming their second win of the season against struggling Bray Wanderers, the Students could be forgiven for travelling to title-chasers Dundalk last Friday evening with a sense of confidence and optimism. Sadly for the young squad, the night held nothing but disappointment as the home side sincerely thwarted their opponents’ aspirations of achieving an unlikely victory by executing a convincing 3-0 win.
The match opened in a very different manner to its conclusion, as it was the visitors who enjoyed the most promising chances of opening the scoring in the first half. The sleek and clever passing that characterised College’s attack early in the match led to a wonderful chance for striker Ciaran Kilduff on 15 minutes. Unfortunately his effort was directed straight at Dundalk keeper Peter Cherrie, who had no difficulty in quelling the danger.
A number of long-range shots from Dundalk posed the only credible threat to Billy Brennan’s UCD net, and these tame efforts were countered in similar fashion by the Students as the half drew onward. It was David McMillan who put the finishing touches on a well worked team movement on the half hour mark by teeing up for an ambitious long distance shot that was narrowly deflected away from goal.
While the first half ended in promising fashion for the Students, their inability to capitalise on their chances was soon punished early in the second half. A wonderful attack by Dundalk saw JJ Melligan place the ball delicately in the bottom corner of the UCD net to give the match its first goal on 55 minutes. The move was ignited by Melligan himself, taking the ball on the half-way line before playing it to teammate Neale Fenn, who returned the favour with a clever pass back to Melligan inside the UCD box from where he finished superbly.
After another twenty minutes of this dominance, their lead was extended. A well-placed corner by Melligan was bobbled momentarily across the face of the UCD goal, eventually finding its way onto the head of defender Gary Breen who coolly placed the ball in the back of the college net in the 73rd minute.
A relatively feeble response by the Students proved fruitless and a third goal late in the match from Fahrudin Kudozovic sealed an impressive win for Dundalk and a disappointing night for UCD.
This victory continues Dundalk’s unbeaten league season and places them at the top of the table, on level points with St Patrick’s Athletic, but with an all-important game in hand. For UCD, it serves as a grim awakening to the difficulties of top-flight football and plunges them into what could prove to be a dogfight to avoid a swift return to the second tier of Irish football. The Students will look to bounce back with a win tonight against Athlone Town in the EA Sports Cup.