North End snatch defeat from jaws of victory
Soccer, Leinster Senior Cup Quarter-final: Bohemians 3 North End United 2
Two goals up with 77 minutes gone on the clock, North End United somehow managed to come up short in this Leinster Senior Cup quarter-final clash at Dalymount Park on Saturday afternoon.
On the back of wins over Usher Celtic, Ayrefield and Longford Town in the earlier rounds of the competition, the Wexford town outfit looked to be in a commanding position thanks to a goal apiece from Niall Connolly in the first-half and Paul 'Spot' Murphy on the re-start.
And this was a highly creditable situation for the visiting side, as Bohs fielded four of their senior squad members in goalkeeper Mick Kelly, defender Michael Barker, midfielder Ryan Graydon, and striker Ryan Swan.
As well, the remainder of the home side was mainly composed of players from their Under-19 squad, who recently hosted Greek side PAOK in the UEFA Youth League, and who play the return leg in Athens on Wednesday, October 23.
But in the remaining 17 minutes that were played, it all came badly unstuck for North End, with the home side eventually finding their shooting boots to emerge as unlikely winners and clinch a semi-final place against Athlone Town.
After North End had bossed most of the second-half and created the more clear-cut scoring chances, a momentary lapse in concentration in the visitors' defence allowed Bohemians sub Marlon Moshita latch on to a through ball and coolly round goalkeeper Lee Walker before reducing the deficit for his side on 78 minutes.
Despite that lapse, the 2018 FAI Junior Cup winners still looked comfortable enough, but any degree of complacency they may have harboured was emphatically shattered ten minutes later, when Graydon's speculative shot from about 25 yards deceived goalkeeper Walker and went in under his body.
And with the outcome of the contest balanced on a knife-edge, Walker took down Swan inside the penalty box in the last minute, and Graydon made no mistake from the resultant spot-kick.
Understandably, North End manager John Godkin was left stunned and perplexed by the dramatic turn of events in the contest against the North Dublin side.
'Coming up to the last twelve minutes or so, we looked quite comfortable and had had the better chances in the second-half,' remarked Godkin after the final whistle.
'The lads had been playing very well, and with a two-goal lead we felt we could make a substitution, and that is why we brought on Paul (Kilmore) Murphy towards the end.
'But their first goal came out of nowhere, and it was due to a bit of a mistake by our left-back who got a knock just before their goal. And after the goal, maybe our lads started thinking "it's 2-1 now and we still have ten minutes or more to go".
'Their second goal was a bad mistake by the 'keeper - he doesn't often make them in fairness. That ball went in under his hand and that gave them a lift, and that really was a turning point.
'That mistake came too close to their first goal and then our lads started to drop their heads a little bit, and in fairness to Bohs they started to up their game and to put us under a fair bit of pressure.
'I think a factor in the turnaround was the fact that Bohs are well into their season, whereas we have only six or seven games under our belt in our season.
'So I think a little bit of fitness might have told in the end,' Godkin added.
'In fairness to Bohs, the kids up here are being very well coached, and at the moment, Bohs are on a bit of high (third in the Airtricity League table), and hopefully they will get into Europe next week.
'At the end of the day, it's a good lesson for us before we go into the Junior Cups which is our bread and butter,' he said.
After just seven minutes, North End underlined their positive intentions by forcing the first corner of the game which the opposing defence managed to deal with.
But almost immediately the action switched to the opposite end of the pitch, and it needed some great tracking from Alan Rhodes to prevent Gavin Molloy getting in a strike on the North End goal.
However, just four minutes later, the visitors went close to taking the lead when Bohs' 'keeper Kelly did very well to deflect a firm header from Adam Beary over the bar.
On 15 minutes, North End's Kyle Dempsey saw his headed effort just clear the crossbar, and it took until the 27th minute before Bohs went close to opening their account, with Kathleco Mashigo's delivery following a corner striking the top of the bar before going over.
A feature of the first-half had been the fact that left-footer Connolly's inswinging corners from the right flag had frequently caused panic in the home side's defence.
And on 41 minutes, another inswinger - this time from a free-kick on the right wing - resulted in the opening goal of the match, when Connolly's shot appeared to go straight to the Bohs' net
On the re-start, North End resumed where they left off in the opening half, with Robin Dempsey having his shot blocked by Mashigo on 49 minutes.
Just a minute later, home central defender Jack Funce unnecessarily conceded a corner which led to the opposition's second goal.
After the delivery from Connolly had been only partially cleared, Paul 'Spot' Murphy displayed clinical finishing ability by lashing the ball to the roof of the net, providing his side with a 2-0 advantage.
On 65 minutes, North End's Kyle Dempsey set up Paul 'Spot' Murphy for a shot on goal, only for his attempt to be blocked, and 13 minutes later Bohs launched their unexpected comeback when Moshita found the net.
BOHEMIANS: Mick Kelly; Peter Adigun, Mitch Byrne, Jack Funce, Kathleco Mashigo, Gavin Molloy, Ryan Graydon, Brandon Bermingham, Jack Nolan, Michael Parker, Ryan Swan. Subs. - Mikey O'Kane for Bermingham (20), Jack Casey for Nolan (59), Marlon Moshita for Adigun (71).
NORTH END: Lee Walker; Dale Flynn, Craig McCabe, Robin Dempsey, Gary Delaney, Paul (Spot) Murphy, Alan Rhodes, Lee Wadding, Kyle Dempsey, Adam Beary, Niall Connolly. Subs. - Paul (Kilmore) Murphy for (74), AymanYousiff for Flynn (77), Ciarán Carthy for Rhodes (86).
REFEREE: Mark Moynihan.