Saints continue European quest at raucous Richmond Park

Saints continue European quest at raucous Richmond Park

St Patrick’s Athletic kept up the pressure on Dundalk in the battle for third place with a comfortable win over Bohemians on a balmy autumnal evening at Richmond Park.


Early goals in either half, one from Serge Atakayi and the other from substitute Mark Doyle, reflected on the scoreboard the superiority of the home side.

James Clarke gave Bohs hope that quickly evaporated when substitute Tunde Owolabi made sure of the points.

Bohs weren’t bad, but the home side are hitting their peak and they could yet have a big say in the title battle between Shamrock Rovers and Derry City.

The game fizzled out in the second period, which was predictable, but the neutral needed Bohs to stay in the contest for longer than they could manage.

It had, of course, been a quite remarkable week and a half off the pitch for Bohs, coming towards the end of a bit of a nothing season for the club on the pitch.

Keith Long had been the league’s longest-serving manager. Alan Reynolds seemingly turned down the chance to succeed him; Ian Ryan was out then in then out again, in the Wexford dugout tonight for a dead rubber against Galway. If such existed on Long’s replacement, it’s improbable Declan Devine would have even been listed in the betting.

Newly appointed Bohemians manager Declan Devine pictured in the crowd at Richmond Park

Outside the ground, getting off the 40 bus, one Bohs fan quipped to this reporter that he’d prefer Devine to Ryan but “if Pep Guardiola got the job there would be somebody giving out”.

For an opening 45 that was not exactly peppered with obvious goalscoring opportunities, it was absorbing stuff, the hosts’ swagger befitting their form; Bohs, however, look like a team that could go places in the future, and Devine must be pinching himself that he has been afforded such an opportunity in the capital.

The opener seven minutes in was beautiful in its simplicity.

Eoin Doyle headed on, Atakayi’s speed duel with former Saint Rory Feely was a non-event and his finish was ruthless in its efficiency.

Bohs had nothing to play for but weren’t lying down. Declan McDaid curled over before Jamie Lennon limped off in a blow for Saints so early.

Saints remained in the ascendancy and Doyle teed up Thijs Timmermans, who shot badly over. Bohs were playing some lovely football at times, Sam Curtis compelled to chop the lively Ethan Varian down just outside the box on 27 minutes.

It came to nought. Ben Curtis was outpaced by Kris Twardek whose superb cross was cleared, only for Jordan Doherty to latch on and drag his shot wide in front of an away support beginning to believe.

James McManus then had two efforts blocked by the Pat’s defence, the game still very much alive.

Another first-half casualty, the solid Harry Brockbank, couldn’t see action in the second; replaced by Mark Doyle necessitating St Pat’s to go to a flat back-four, with 16-year-old Curtis, linked with Manchester City of late, one of the centre-backs.

A problem can entail an opportunity and, Mark now an added threat alongside his name-sake Eoin up top, found the butt of the post and the back of the net after a sweet pass from Chris Forrester within three minutes.

Mark Doyle, second from left, celebrates his goal

Would Bohs now collapse or would they put up a fight?

It was nearly three when Forrester exhibited world-class technique from a dead ball to rattle Tadhg Ryan’s crossbar. Forrester showed a flash of genius in then putting Mark Doyle in with a disguised pass; this time, Ryan was equal to it.

With seven minutes to go, a lifeline for Bohs as the game was seemingly over as a contest, James Clarke finding the corner of Danny Rogers’ goal with a stunning strike. Saints looked for a free out in vain; a nervy finale was in store.

If only for four minutes: Owolabi, who scored a hat-trick earlier this season against Bohs, drove home a third from around 20 yards.

Ryan should have saved; and the Bohs fans behind him were told they had to wait in the ground until the home fans had left.

Many of them would have gone at once, praying for the end to this season.

The Saints go marching on and, had Forrester found the net rather than Ryan’s parry in injury time, another bit of audacity from the Smithfield maestro, the place would have gone beyond mad.

They’ll settle for this.

St Patrick’s Athletic: Rogers; Curtis, Redmond, Brockbank (M Doyle 46); Cotter, Forrester, Lennon (Timmermans 15), O’Reilly, Breslin; Atakayi (King 65) E Doyle (Owolabi 78).

Bohemians: Ryan; Doherty, Feely, Kelly, Murphy; McManus, Levingston (Mullins 64), McDaid (Lotefa 64); Clarke, Varian, Twardek.

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