In a Dublin Derby that served as a dress rehearsal for this month's FAI Cup final between the sides, St Patrick's Athletic and Bohemians played out a thrilling draw at Richmond Park on Monday evening.
The Saints looked in cruise control for most of the night after goals in either half from Billy King and Jason McClelland gave them a 2-0 lead. However, Bohemians staged an inspired comeback through the partnership of goalscorers Ross Tierney and Promise Omochere and very nearly snatched victory at the death.
While Bohemians’ season will largely be remembered for their electric run in the European qualifiers and whatever happens in next month’s final, they arrived into this Dublin derby in poor domestic form, recording just one win in their last eight league outings and without their injured top-goalscorer Georgie Kelly.
St Pat’s, meanwhile, had enjoyed impressive recent home form and delighted fans with fine wins against Dundalk here in both the league and Cup over the past 10 days.
Having registered his first career hat-trick against Longford last Friday, Matty Smith looked like a player full of confidence and he was central to the game's first chance.
Utilising his first touch to push the ball into his path, the Scottish striker drove into the box, diverted the ball around opposing legs before laying it to the edge of the box. However, Chris Forrester’s resulting shot was just wide.
While the Saints attack looked bright, it was dim defending from Bohemians that led to the opening goal.
Being hassled by an urgent McClelland, Andy Lyons overhit a dangerous back pass to his goalkeeper James Talbot. Out of position and under pressure from McClelland’s continuing run, Talbot tried the return pass but inadvertently found King on the edge of the box.
Talbot fled valiantly back to his line, however, King was clinical and fired the ball into the top right corner.
The Saints looked confident and nearly doubled their lead two minutes later. Attacking from right-back, Jak Hickman delivered an inviting cross which McClelland met with his head to ricochet the ball off the woodwork.
Bohs for their part were struggling, their only chance of the half a lightning counter-attack which ended with an uncharacteristically poor shot from Liam Burt.
The second-half continued in the same vein, as the Saints regained control, doubling their lead after three minutes. Forrester slid the ball through the channel for Hikman who took it in his stride before drilling a low cross for McClelland to convert.
Two goals to the good, the hosts should have been on the home straight. But, 15 minutes later the scores were level and Bohemians had turned the game on its head.
The first came from a loose back pass from Paddy Barrett, which Tierney pounced on before converting cooly through the goalkeeper’s legs.
Bohs had one back and moved quickly to inject creativity, introducing Dawson Devoy and Promise Omochere from the bench.
And it proved to be an inspired change as, attacking a corner, Omochere showed great instincts to slide the ball home in the six-yard box.
Bohemians' fans were still celebrating behind the goal as the Saints restarted proceedings and that noise was the driving force as the Gypsies launched wave after wave of attack.
Omochere and Tierney combined beautifully to unveil a litany of holes in the opposing defence, raising the question of why they didn’t start the night as the attacking front two.
Jaros was called into action on multiple occasions, as the home side seemed to shrink under the pressure of a boisterous away crowd.
Tierney had the best chance of snatching a sweet comeback victory when his 25-yard strike rattled Jaros’ crossbar with 8 minutes to go.
Both sides swapped last-gasp attacks but the referee called an end to proceedings, setting the stage for a first Cup final meeting between the sides at the Aviva Stadium on November 28th.
St. Patrick's Athletic: Vitezslav Jaros; Jak Hickman, Sam Bone, Paddy Barrett (James Abankwah, 73), Shane Griffin (Ian Bermingham, 80); Chris Forrester, Alfie Lewis, Jason McClelland (Robbie Benson, 73); Billy King, Matty Smith; Nehum Melvin-Lambert (Darragh Burns, 73).
Bohemian FC: James Talbot; Andy Lyons (Ciaran Kelly, 62), Rory Feely, James Finnerty, Anto Breslin (Dawson Devoy, 62), Tyreke Wilson; Jamie Mullins (Promise Omochere, 62), Conor Levingston, Ali Coote (Keith Ward, 88), Ross Tierney; Liam Burt.
Referee: Robert Harvey.
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