Bohemian rhapsody floors out-of-tune Dundalk

Bohemians’ Dan Casey celebrates with Danny Grant at the final whistle. Photo: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Bohemians 2 - 1 Dundalk

A sluggish start cost Dundalk dearly as the reigning champions slipped to third in the Premier Division, and Bohemians outlined their own title credentials.

What will worry Dundalk boss Vinny Perth most is that for all their possession, his side never really looked like salvaging a result after falling 2-0 behind at Dalymount Park, with the hosts leapfrogging their visitors into second.

Following last week’s disjointed home draw with St Patrick’s Athletic, Dundalk were left dazed by two early goals as Bohemians attacked with purpose from the start. At the heart of it all was Kris Twardek, who spent much of the opening stages twisting and turning Sean Gannon down the left wing. It was no surprise he was heavily involved in the opening goal, getting the better of Sean Gannon before pulling the ball back to Anthony Breslin, his deep cross met by the head of Danny Grant.

Dundalk, looking a little ruffled, came forward in numbers but found it hard to negotiate their way through a disciplined Bohemians defence.

Daniel Kelly eventually danced his way though and felt he should have had a penalty when the frame of Andy Lyons sent him to the ground. Referee Neil Doyle waved play on.

As Kelly picked himself off the turf, Bohs goalkeeper Stephen McGuinness sent a long ball towards Twardek, who took control and delivered another fine cross towards Keith Ward at the back post. Ward cushioned the ball to Keith Buckley, with the Bohs captain steering a low effort to Gary Rogers’ right. Dundalk were two down with just 15 minutes on the clock. The artificial home crowd, pumped in via the stadium PA, went wild.

Keith Long’s side didn’t relent. Wright saw an effort veer wide via the boot of Daniel Cleary. Another link-up between Grant and Twardek broke down after one back-heel too many.

The home side were flying it, and all without the injured Danny Mandroiu. If the attacker was indeed ‘gargled’, as Bohs’ tongue-in-cheek team news stated before the game (referencing a mini-storm on social media earlier in the week), you felt he might have been tempted to pop an aspirin and try his luck out there.

Dundalk boss Perth sent in John Mountney in a bid to gain control in midfield and his presence quickly steadied the ship. Moving the ball with more purpose, Dundalk began to get a foothold in the game. Down the right flank, Stefan Colovic dragged Breslin one way, then the other, before sending in an inviting cross which Michael Duffy duly headed home three minutes before the break.

Dundalk went in search of the equaliser, with another Duffy shot smothered by a swarm of Bohs players.

The Lilywhites picked up where they left off after the break. Thirty-five seconds into the second-half Patrick Hoban saw a header crash off the bar, with Mountney’s follow-up too close to McGuinness.

With the next goal crucial,  both teams were living on the edge, and Dundalk continuously found themselves exposed on the counter. First Ward bust forward for Bohemians and played in Twardek, who shot straight at Rogers. Wright was next up, Andy Boyle diving in with the crucial block, before substitute Dawson Devoy angled a shot over the bar.

The third goal never arrived for Bohemians. They didn’t need it.

Michael Duffy had a chance to be the Dundalk hero but smacked a 94th minute free into the wall. It could prove costly. Shamrock Rovers head to Derry on Sunday with a chance to move six points clear at the top of the table.

BOHEMIANS: McGuinness; Lyons, Cornwall, Casey, Breslin; Buckley (capt), Ward (Devoy 71), Lunney; Twardek, Wright, Grant.

Substitutes not used:

Talbot, Finnerty, Kelly, Levingston, Omochere, Corcoran.

Booked: Casey 32, Devoy 85, Twardek 86 

Scorers: Grant 7, Buckley 15

DUNDALK: Rogers; Gannon, Cleary, Boyle, Massey (Oduwa 17); Shields (capt), Flores (Patching 66), Kelly (Mountney 34); Colovic, Hoban, Duffy.

Substitutes not used: McCartney, Gartland, Sloggett, Dummigan 

Booked: Casey 32 

Scorer: Duffy 42 

Referee: Neil Doyle (Dublin)