Rodrigo Tosi’s cool early second-half penalty sent Limerick within touching distance of securing their SSE Airtricity League Premier Division status for 2018 as they edged past ten-man Drogheda United 1-0 at the Markets Field on Saturday evening.
The first half was one to forget as little opportunities were created. But within four minutes of the restart Limerick were in front when Tosi clinically finished from the spot after he was fouled by Colm Deasy, who would later see red.
The introduction of young William Fitzgerald for his league debut – shortly after Deasy’s dismissal – gave the Shannonsiders energy and they should have capitalised on two openings he was key to. However, one goal did the job as Limerick moved five points clear of the dropzone with two games left.
Manager Neil McDonald made two changes to the team that drew with Saint Patrick’s Athletic seven days earlier, as Barry Cotter and Joe Crowe – who earned the Frank Hogan Volkswagen Man of the Match award for his midfield display – came in to replace Dean Clarke and suspended captain Shane Duggan. Brendan Clarke carried the armband.
Limerick started on the front foot and when Stephen Kenny caught Lee-J Lynch’s pass at the by-line his delivery ended on the head of Tosi who could not get enough power in his effort to trouble Stephen McGuinness.
That, though, was as good as it got for a while. On the half-hour, McGuinness easily got behind to collect Kenny’s strike from the edge of the box, and soon after, Bastien Héry saw a shot deflected behind for a corner which came to nothing.
Before the break, Cotter had two dangerous crosses, the first met by Tosi at the back post but he headed over, and then Drogheda did well to clear. All that came among Drogheda enjoying possession which they probed with without testing Clarke in the home goal.
But, three minutes into the second half, Limerick took the initiative when Tosi was dragged down by Deasy in the box, and up stood the Brazilian to coolly send McGuinness the wrong way.
After that, Chiedozie Ogbene drilled over before Héry’s low shot was well held by the Drogheda No1. At the other end, Jack Bayly’s corner to the back post was met by Mark Doyle but, off balance, he headed wide.
On 65 minutes, it should have been 2-0 when Lynch – whose cross led to the penalty – delivered once more but Tosi headed into the side-netting.
Soon, Drogheda were reduced to ten men when Deasy received a second yellow card. And after Fitzgerald was brought on from the bench for his league bow, the young winger excited the 1,622-strong crowd, with his first cross finding Lynch in space but he miscontrolled in the box.
Then Héry and Fitzgerald set up Tosi but, under pressure, he directed a close-range header off target. Drogheda did push for an equaliser and had a late, later corner but Clarke gathered well to confirm a huge three points for the Blues.
Limerick: Brendan Clarke ©, Barry Cotter, Tony Whitehead, Dave O’Connor, Shane Tracy, Stephen Kenny (William Fitzgerald 74), Bastien Héry, Joe Crowe, Lee-J Lynch, Chiedozie Ogbene, Rodrigo Tosi. Goal: R Tosi (49 pen). Booked: None. Unused Subs: Freddy Hall (GK), John O’Flynn, Peter Berki, Dean Clarke, Killian Brouder, Henry Cameron.
Drogheda United: Stephen McGuinness, Shane Elworthy (Conor Kane 31), Dave Mulcahy ©, Kevin Farragher, Colm Deasy, Richie Purdy (Seán Russell 69), Ryan McEvoy, Adam Wixted, Jack Bayly (Lloyd Buckley 72), Mark Doyle, Chris Mulhall. Booked: C Deasy (48, 71), C Mulhall (61). Sent-Off: C Deasy (71). Unused Subs: Luke Gallagher, Stephen Elliott, Jamie Hollywood, Stephen Meaney.
Referee: Andrew Mullally (Waterford). Attendance: 1,622.
Report Date: Saturday 14 October 2017