DUNDALK manager Vinny Perth has made repeated pleas for what he calls the “noise” around his club to die down so he and his players can do their business in peace.
ut this was another one of those days in the rolling soap opera that is Dundalk in 2021, another day which tests the nerves, and loyalty, of their supporters as the team fell to a 1-0 defeat away to St Patrick’s Athletic, where Billy King’s first-half goal was the difference between the sides.
Off the field there was more chaos for a club where talk of a takeover is the chat around the town’s streets, as a number of the club’s backroom staff departed. On the field of play though there was more woe, with Dundalk’s tame loss in Inchicore, while across the city Waterford’s win away to Bohemians makes the bottom end of the table a lot more uncomfortable for Dundalk.
They had enough chances to earn at least a point here but with an unconvincing front line, their attack seriously weakened by the absence of Pat Hoban, they didn’t have the bite or edge needed to punish St Pat’s and this does not look like a side or a club with the stomach for what’s to come in the month ahead.
Not much has gone right for Dundalk of late and this game was more of the same. They could have been 2-0 up before the midway point of the first half, denied by a pair of saves from Czech ’keeper Vitezslav Jaros, but went into the half-time break with a 1-0 deficit with King’s fine strike, his second goal against Dundalk in four days.
Dundalk had a nice shape about them early on, a first threat on 14 minutes when Jaros tipped a free from Will Patching over the bar and from the resulting corner, Sam Stanton had his effort blocked. Jaros’ next save, on 23 minutes, was more impressive as a diving header from Darragh Leahy tested the Liverpool loanee, but Jaros was equal to the task.
And within a minute Pat’s were ahead, Jamie Lennon with a short pass for King who had the confidence to take the ball inside, move within sight of Peter Cherrie’s goal and he fired home.
The home side drew confidence from that, Sam Bone with an effort at the far post while Jason McClelland was narrowly off target. Dundalk did get the ball into the net on 35 minutes, Patching with the final touch after Pat’s failed to clear a corner, a Dundalk man, Greg Sloggett, was ruled offside.
The Saints were strong again in the second half, Dummigan standing in the way of a Robbie Benson shot while a cross from the impressive full-back Jak Hickman provided a chance for McClelland, that effort also blocked.
Michael Duffy was Dundalk’s most likely source of a goal, two good crosses from the left not met with a quality finish from a team-mate as David McMillan laboured up front but never really threatened.
Dundalk had sustained pressure for the final 10 minutes but there was no discomfort from Pat’s, Dundalk’s inability to win meaning that a possible coronation for Shamrock Rovers was not on, as the title race limps on until Friday at least. But for Dundalk, that bottom four, with the relegation play-off spot only a point below them, is an ongoing concern.
ST PAT’S – Jaros; Hickman, Desmond, Bone, Griffin; Lennon, Lewis; King (Barrett 86), Benson (Burns 67), McClelland (Bermingham 86); Nwoko (Melvin-Lambert 67).
DUNDALK – Cherrie; Jurkovskis, Boyle, Dummigan, Leahy; Stanton (Murray 61); Kelly (Ben Amar 78), Sloggett, Patching, Duffy; McMillan.
REF – Graham Kelly.