- Monday March 26th, 2012 @ 21:38
U18s - Saints 0 Athlone 3
St Patricks Athletic 18's exited this year's Ferrari Cup at the Semi –Final stage after a disappointing 3-0 defeat at the hands of Athlone Town in Bunting Road, Walkinstown.
The game began in a very cagey fashion with neither side giving each other much space to create. This was especially the case with St Pats as they pressed their opponents very high up the pitch.
The host's may have put too much effort into the early stages as the sweltering heat seemed to drain both sides but especially Pats and the referee had to call for several water breaks for re-hydration.
Athlone's Warren Conroy came close early on with an effort from 12 yards after some good build up play but the shot was well held by Andy Callaly in the St Patricks goal.
Pat's came back at the Westmeath men and began to control the game, with Craig Smithers, Karl Tims and Keifer Byrne combining only for the latter's effort to be fired wide.
The Saints kept pushing but with many players committed forward, could have got caught on the counter-attack. Dean Miley and Eoin Byrne coped well with little cover to keep the visitors at bay during this period.
And as Pats kept their opponents at bay, a brilliant pass by Smithers into Gareth Byrne, saw his first time shot from a tight angle, skid marginally wide. The home crowd were convinced the attempt was heading to the net.
Athlone kept going however and the pace of forwards Jordan Conroy and Idrisoy Oyeneni caused continuous problems as they countered at great speed.
This led to a point blank save by Callaly from a Conroy effort. The home side then put the pressure on and had four corners in succession. If anything it looked like they were more likely to take the lead.
And just on the stroke of half time, all the pressure Pats had was undone as Oyeneni was brought down in the box by Mark Patchell. His pace just proved too much for Pats to handle.
Val Feeney converted the penalty for the ‘Town, though Callaly got a hand to tip it off the post and in.
The home side started the second half well and worked an opening early on. Ian Fitzgerald found Keifer Byrne, who played in Tims who was then foiled by goalkeeper Brian Redmond.
The red and whites worked hard to carve out an opening, but nothing clear cut came to fruition. Ian Fitzgerald had several attempts, coming in from the left hand side, but none were able to reach the target.
Athlone managed to counter-attack from the pressure they were under and almost had a second goal, but Callaly was on hand again to parry the ball wide. Yet they soon managed to double their lead after Stephen Conneely scored a free header at the back post.
Andy Dagg, who impressed throughout the game, had an attempt saved by Redmond, while quick feet provided Smithers with a half chance on the edge of the box, but he couldn't find the target.
It seemed like it wouldn't be their day and the St Patricks misery was compounded when a long range effort found the bottom corner to make it 3-0 and finish them off.
Smithers and Tims both had good efforts towards the end of the ninety but neither reached the back of the net and the scoreline finished at three goals to nil.
At the end of the day St Patricks exited the cup and because it was a Semi-Final it will be extra difficult to take, but the scoreline didn't reflect how the match had gone as the home team had more of the play, but not enough clear cut chances were created to really pressurise their midland opponents. The first goal at the end of the first half proved pivotal as it made Pats commit more men, leading to Athlone being able to catch them on the break, which they were very capable of doing.
St Patricks Athletic coach Ben Smithers had the following take on the game: “We're disappointed. I think the lads put a lot of effort into the start of the game and should have probably held and grown into the game but that could be a lot to do with nerves.”
He also felt that his side's usual standards weren't met with regards to chance creation: “I don't think we were creating good enough pressure or chances, the only time this happened was in the last 20 minutes when we did that much more and passed and moved. Maybe if this was done from the start we would have done an awful lot better. It's a learning curve for the lads.”
St Patricks Athletic: A Callaly; A Dagg, M Patchell (M Mustpha), D Miley, E Byrne; G Byrne, C Smithers, K Byrne, K Murray, I Fitzgerald, K Tims.