|Match Report||St Patrick’s Athletic crashed out of the Setanta Cup at the first hurdle to Cliftonville for the second successive year. |
On a bitterly cold night in Richmond Park, a crazy period just after the hour saw the game completely turned on its head.
Debutant midfielder John Russell was sent off on 65, before young striker Joe Gormley pounced on the rebound of Diarmuid O’Carroll’s header to put Cliftonville in complete control, creating a near impossible task for the Saints to get back into the game.
The Inchicore side began the better and very strong going forward, with Greg Bolger creating chance after chance in the Saints midfield.
Christy Fagan had the ball in the net inside the first ten minutes, but he was deemed to be offside after winger Sean O’Connor’s cross.
Minutes after Bolger fed the impressive Russell, but his swivel and shot came back off the post.
Last weeks goal hero Liam Boyce was playing out wide for the Belfast Reds, as they played with five across the midfield in an attempt to stem the creativity coming from Saints midfield trio of John Russell, James Chambers and Greg Bolger.
Possible the chance of the game fell to another Saints debutant Jake Kelly, but he missed his kick with a near open goal at his mercy.
Christy Fagan and Greg Bolger had combined well with the former getting behind the Cliftonville back line.
Cliftonville’s first chance of note came after Kenny Browne was caught in position thirty yards from goal, but former Celtic striker Diarmuid O’Carroll opted to shoot first time instead of carrying the ball, and so made it easy for keeper Murphy to claim.
St Pat’s didn’t offer the same attacking panache early in the second half, but still looked a threat.
Fagan was caught offside again before he put the ball in the net for a second time.
The red card for Russell then came about, after a tough tackle on Cliftonville midfielder Ryan Catney.
Many players questioned the merits of the red, but by the letter of the law the former Sligo man’s two feet were off the ground and therefore he wasn’t in control.
Last weeks Man of the Match George Mc Mullan then sent in a 70th minute free kick, to which Diamuid O’Carroll got his head to, and when the ball came back off the underside of the bar, striker Gormley was quickest to react.
From then on, Cliftonville began to play keep ball and there was never a danger of their lead slipping.
The draw for the next round of the Setanta Cup took place in the media room in Richmond Park after, with a Linfield-Derry City clash coming out as the tie of the round.
The Saints Conquerors Cliftonville will again face in a Dublin side in the shape of defending champions Shamrock Rovers.
Glentoran will play Sligo Rovers, who are still in search of a manager, and new Bohs boss Aaron Callaghan will take his young side to his former side Crusaders.
The first leg will take place on the 5th of March, with the second leg on the 20th of the same month.
St Patrick's Athletic
Barry Murphy; Ger O’Brien (c), Pat Flynn, Kenny Browne, Ian Bermingham; Seán O’Connor, Greg Bolger, James Chambers (Mark Rossiter 89), John Russell, Jake Kelly (Stephen O’Flynn 67); Christy Fagan (Ian Daly 80).
Ryan Browne; Ronan Scannell; Dermot McVeigh, Ciaran Caldwell, Eamonn Seydak, Liam Boyce, Ryan Catney, George McMullen (c), Emmet Templeton (Stephen Garrett 81); Joe Gormley (Chris Scannell 81), Diarmuid O’Carroll (Martin Donnelly 85).
Referees: R Winter, A Lynch, E Dynan, T Connolly.