Drogheda United 0-5 Town - Match Report
Saturday, 8th Jul 2017 15:51
Town's pre-season programme got off to a winning start after goals from Freddie Sears (2), Brett Pitman, Kieffer Moore and Joe Garner saw the Blues to a 5-0 victory over Drogheda at United Park.
Town started with a team which was a mix of youngsters and senior pros for the first half with Dean Gerken in goal, Josh Emmanuel at right-back, Myles Kenlock at left-back and Steven Taylor and Pat Webber at the centre of the defence.
In midfield, Cole Skuse was joined in the centre by Adam McDonnell with Grant Ward on the right and Conor McKendry on the left, while Sears and Pitman were up front.
Town are set to field an entirely different XI in the second half but with Luke Chambers, Adam Webster, who is understood to have an ankle problem, and new signings Tom Adeyemi and Bersant Celina not involved despite being at United Park, while Kevin Bru is an absentee along with Luke Hyam, who has been training but may not yet be ready for a game.
David McGoldrick, Tommy Smith, Emyr Huws and Monty Patterson have been given additional time off having been on international duty so aren’t involved, while Kevin Bru hasn’t travelled to Ireland with a move back to France seeming likely.
The home side started with half the team which lost 2-0 at home to Finn Harps last night to drop to the bottom of the League of Ireland Premier Division as well as a number of trialists.
Town threatened first in the fourth minute when Webber sent a ball forward for Sears, who teed up McKendry and the Northern Irish youngster hit a shot not too far wide.
Sean Russell hit weakly into the arms of Gerken moments later, then play moved quickly to the other end and Drogs keeper Ryan Coulter thwarted Sears and Pitman looped the loose ball over the defenders on the line and the bar.
On 11 McKendry flicked an Emmanuel cross from the right not too far wide, then three minutes later the Blues took the lead.
Ward worked his way past a couple of defenders towards the edge of the box before laying the ball to his left to Pitman, who took a touch before curling a superb strike into the top left-hand corner of Coulter’s net.
Pitman might have made it 2-0 in the 22nd minute after running on to Sears’s clever flick but screwed the ball so wide it went out for a throw.
Drogheda chances had been few and far between but on 25 McDonnell gave the ball away midway inside the Town half and Dean Ebbe hit a shot which Taylor blocked.
Almost immediately the Blues were close to making it 2-0, Coulter pawing away McDonnell’s well-struck shot from the edge of the box.
Sears should have doubled Town’s lead on 29 when Pitman flicked on Kenlock’s ball forward putting the former Colchester man in one-on-one with Coulter, however, the keeper blocked.
But the striker made amends in the 37th minute, again when fed through by Pitman, on this occasion slipping the ball to Coulter’s right and into the net off the inside of the post.
Three minutes later, it was 3-0. Kenlock crossed from the left, Pitman and Sears exchanged passes to work the one-time West Ham frontman space and he beat Coulter to his left from the edge of the six-yard box.
Sears might have completed a first-half hat-trick in the 42nd minute when played through by McKendry but Coulter again stood his ground and saved.
A minute later, Blues keeper Gerken was forced into his first serious save of the game, diving to his right to stop Adam Wixted's strike.
That was the final action of a half dominated by Town, who might well have been more than three goals in front had more of their chances been taken.
Pitman and Sears combined well throughout, even if they will feel they ought to have taken more chances, while youngsters McKendry and Webber will be pleased with their first performances for the senior side.
Bartosz Bialkowski took over in goal for the second half with Jordan Spence at right-back, Tristan Nydam at left-back and George Fowler and Jonas Knudsen at the heart of the defence.
In midfield, Flynn Downes and Teddy Bishop were in the centre with Danny Rowe on the right and Ben Morris on the left, while Kieffer Moore and Joe Garner were up front.
Two minutes after the restart Rowe cut in from the right and hit a shot which Coulter did well to tip over.
And within a minute the Blues had increased their lead, Rowe crossed from the right and Moore nodded down and into the net off the post.
Town continued the early pressure with Bishop shooting across the face of goal, then on 52 Garner sent Morris away down the left but the England U18 international was stopped in his tracks by a well-timed challenge as he looked to cut the ball back.
The Blues should have gone five in front in the 58th minute after Spence sent a long ball over the top which sent Garner through on goal. The recent signing from Rangers unselfishly squared to Moore but under-hit his pass and a defender cut it out.
Town continued to have much the better of it and on 64 Garner saw a shot blocked, then Morris headed well over at the far post from a cross from the right.
However, chances became rarer as the half wore on, although Morris hit a shot on the turn which was deflected wide as the game moved into its final quarter hour.
A minute later Bialkowski made his first save, easily claiming Daniel Purdy’s weak effort after a moment of hesitation in the Blues defence had allowed him a sight of goal.
With 10 minutes left on the clock McKendry returned to the game in place of Moore, then with four minutes left Garner hit his first goal in a Town shirt, lashing a powerful shot past Coulter from the right of the area. Moments later the referee’s whistle ended the afternoon’s entertainment.
The Blues dominated the second half, albeit without creating chances with the same frequency as the more experienced first-half team had before the break.
Boss McCarthy is likely to have been pleased with his squad’s first pre-season run-out with a trip to Peterborough - where they will play two games of an hour - a week on Tuesday.
Drogheda: Coulter, Elworthy, Gallagher (Kane 46), McGuigan (McEvoy 65), Dunne, Wixted (Masterson 65), Hollywood, Russell, Ameri, Donaghy (Purdy 61), Ebbe, Brennan, Byrne, Buckley, Tracey.
First-half Team: Gerken, Emmanuel, Taylor, Webber, Kenlock, Ward, Skuse, McDonnell, McKendry, Sears, Pitman.
Second-half team: Bialkowski, Spence, Fowler, Knudsen (c), Nydam, Rowe, Garner, Moore (McKendry 80), Bishop, Downes, Morris.
Photo: Larry McQuillan/Drogheda United
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