St. Patrick’s Athletic have opened up a six-point gap at the top of the Airtricity Premier league after a deserved victory at Belfield. Robbie Benson grabbed a surprise lead for UCD, Pat's responded through Chris Forrester, Anto Flood and Jake Kelly.
St Pat's, backed by a vocal travelling support, dominated the early exchanges. Conan Byrne looked in bullish form, taking any opportunity possible to dribble at an inexperienced UCD defence. John Russell and Anto Flood had shots on goal but Mark McGinley in the UCD goal didn’t look troubled for either attempt.
After withstanding the early pressure, the College eased themselves in to the game and started to control some of the play in the middle of the park
UCD midfielder Robbie Creevy set up the first goal of the night with a superb through ball. Cutting in from the left wing, the perfectly weighted pass gave Robbie Benson all the time and space he needed to place his shot past Brendan Clarke.
Suspensions meant St Pat's came into the game missing the in-form and hugely influential duo of Daryl Kavanagh and Killian Brennan. Fortunately for Liam Buckley his side is not lacking in creative footballers and it was Chris Forrester who stepped up to deliver for his manager.
A long range effort from Forrester’s left foot brought about the equaliser. Mark McGinley seemed to have control of what was a reasonably tame effort from the Pat's playmaker, but the ball slipped out of his gloves and crept over the goal line.
Moments later, Forrester turned to creator as his side went in front for the first time in the game. Breaking quickly from half-way he drew defenders close before playing Anto Flood through on goal. A tidy finish past the onrushing McGinley and St Pat's title credentials were back on track.
It was much of the same from Pat's in the second half. Conan Byrne broke in behind left-back David O’Connor but failed to see the run of Flood and went for goal from an almost impossible angle.
It was winger, Jake Kelly, who grabbed the crucial third goal. Cutting inside from 30 yards he confidently drilled a low effort underneath McGinely. The reactions of the UCD keeper called into question once again.
Despite going a goal down, the league leaders weren’t fazed and turned things around for a comfortable 3-1 victory. Possibly showing the maturity of Champions-elect.