Goals from Mark Doyle, Eoin McPhillips and Stephen Meaney saw Drogheda United progress to the second round of the EA Sports Cup with a 3-2 win over ten-man St. Mochta’s.
It took a few minutes for this encounter, which had previously been postponed three times, to get going with a few half chances all that occurred in the opening minutes.
Four minutes in and Richie Purdy’s freekick met the head of Victor Ekanem for the home side. He didn’t connect cleanly and a small scramble in the box followed but Mochta’s cleared.
The next chance for Drogheda came six minutes later as Deasy’s throw in found Meaney who turned his man and played dangerous looking low ball across the box which Adam Kmet dealt with.
Mochta’s first effort of the game came next as Niall O’Reilly picked the ball up from right back and let fly from distance, stinging the palms of Luka Gratzer.
It would be the visitors who would take the lead too, on 19 minutes following a defensive mix-up from Drogheda.
Colm Deasy’s poor header gave Denis Moran the chance to run in on goal. Ekanem had also failed to clear when he had the chance, forcing Drogheda keeper Gratzer off his line.
Gratzer attempted to claim the ball but instead took down Moran in the box, giving referee David Doyle no option but to point to the spot.
Dean Kelly stepped up to take the spot kick and made no mistake, sending Gratzer the wrong way to give Mochta’s the lead.
Drogheda looked to respond quick as five minutes later McPhillips through ball set Gareth McCaffrey in on the right.
He clipped a ball to the back post to Mark Doyle, but his downward header was easily save by Kmet.
The ‘keeper was called into action again three minutes later as Meaney played the ball back to McCaffrey who shot low through a crowd but again Kmet was equal to the effort.
Drogheda would find a way through though within 60 seconds, after Mochta’s only half-cleared a corner as far as Kealan Dillon.
Dillon played a long-lofted ball back into the box into the path of Doyle who rose highest to head past Kmet and equalise for the Boynesiders.
Within two minutes Drogheda had taken the lead as Gratzer gathered a Mochta’s free kick and straightaway released Doyle on the left.
He beat two men and played a cross to edge of the six-yard box where Eoin McPhillips met it. He headed into the Mochta’s net past Kmet, a player who was on trial at Drogheda in pre-season.
The home side would add one more before the break as Doyle and Deasy linked up, again on the left.
Deasy played the ball inside to Meaney who flicked the ball over a Mochta’s defender and fired into the goal.
Drogheda almost made it four on the stroke of half time as Doyle found Deasy. He rounded the keeper, but his effort was cleared off the line by brilliant last-ditch clearance from Craig Sheridan.
The second half didn’t start how Mochta’s would have hoped as they were reduced to ten men just two minutes in as Denis Moran was shown a straight red after being adjudged to have connected high on Lloyd Buckley with his elbow.
Drogheda, unsurprisingly, gained a foothold in the game for a period but were first limited to long range efforts from Dillon and Purdy.
Mochta’s were still creating chances though and it was the visitors who went closest to scoring next as Dean Kelly headed over the bar at the back post.
The man advantage was visible at stages though as Dillon switched the ball to Deasy who played a one-two with Doyle. Deasy had space to run into but Kmet gathered his effort at the near post.
Mochta’s were far from out of this game though and a period of sustained pressure midway through the second half seemed to have Drogheda on the ropes.
The visitors almost found what would have been a deserved way back into the game with 18 minutes to play as Simon Dixon’s stunning long-range effort cannoned back off the bar.
Drogheda themselves hit the woodwork with ten to go as McCaffrey’s blocked effort fell to Deasy and his low drive bounced back off the post.
There would be late drama though as Drogheda made a late sub, bringing U19 goalkeeper Malachy Doyle on for Luca Gratzer.
Seconds later, the ball came to Philly Hughes, he turned and fired a stunning effort into the top corner leaving substitute Doyle with no chance.
Mochta’s pushed looking for one more chance but couldn’t find an opening and Drogheda hung on and now face a trip to Shelbourne in the next round of the cup.
Drogheda United: Luka Gratzer (Malachy Doyle 88’); Sean Trimble, Lloyd Buckley (C) (Kevin Farragher 75’), Victor Ekanem (Ciaran Kelly 55’), Colm Deasy; Richie Purdy, Kealan Dillon, Eoin McPhillips; Mark Doyle, Stephen Meaney, Gareth McCaffrey.
Subs not used: Luke Gallagher, Sean Brennan, Jake Hyland, Lee Duffy.
Booked:Luca Gratzer (15), Victor Ekanem (31).
St. Mochta’s: Adam Kmet; Niall O’Reilly, Craig Sheridan, Gavin Kearney, Sean Byrne (Simon Dixon 26’); Mark O’Neill, Philip Hughes, Jason Marks; Thomas Crawley (Karl Somers 46’), Dean Kelly (Keith Dunne 60’), Jason Marks.
Subs not used: David Somers, Ciaran Ryan, Jonathan Lyons, Andy Gorman.
Booked:Gavin Kearney (13), Philip Hughes (56).
Sent off:Denis Moran (47).
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Mark Doyle (Drogheda United).
The Saints gave it everything. Battled for a long spell with 10 men. Philly Hughes goal was outstanding. Great support tonight. A great occasion for the club. Good luck to @DroghedaUnited in the next round.— St. Mochta's FC. (@stmochtasfc) April 9, 2018