Dundalk head Coach Vinny Perth. Pic: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Dundalk FC 1-2 Drogheda United
Dundalk have plummeted to ninth in the SSE Airtricity League table and face a potential relegation play-off after losing 2-1 to Drogheda United in the Louth derby at Oriel Park.
A third consecutive league defeat, coupled with wins for Finn Harps and Waterford, means The Lilywhites – champions just two years ago – are now second from bottom.
Goals in either half for man-of-the-match Mark Doyle had given The Drogs a commanding lead, but Michael Duffy pulled one back with over half-an-hour remaining.
Dundalk never looked like finding a leveller and now find themselves in serious trouble.
Vinny Perth handed a debut to Moroccan U23 international winger Sami Ben Amar, who alongside Scottish goalkeeper Cameron Yates, signed for the Oriel Park club on Tuesday.
Yates took his place on the bench, while sitting among the substitutes for Drogheda was Monserrat midfielder Kaleem Simon, whose acquisition was confirmed before kick-off.
Drogheda, who hadn’t won a game at Oriel since 2012, had the first effort when Daniel O’Reilly’s free-kick dipped up and over the wall, but Alessio Abibi gathered comfortably.
Only two points ahead of the relegation play-off position coming into this game, Dundalk had their first opening when Greg Sloggett fired over the top after some neat build-up.
Dundalk began to stamp their authority, but were struggling to create anything of substance, as Cameron Dummigan floated in a cross from the right which was met by the glancing head of Patrick Hoban, only for visiting goalkeeper David Odumosu to collect.
The hosts were producing some decent football in front of the 500 spectators in attendance and Will Patching fired wide of the mark, shortly before Duffy’s attempt from similar range moments later bobbled safely into the hands of the confident Odumosu.
Serving a suspension, Drogheda manager Tim Clancy watched on from the stand as his side almost took the lead when Conor Kane’s cross was met by the deftest of touches by Jordan Adeyemo from close range, as the unconvincing Abibi pushed around the post.
Indeed, the visitors went ahead ten minutes before the half-time break when Darragh Markey played an incisive ball into Doyle on the left and he skipped the challenge of both Andy Boyle and Ben Amar before drilling into the bottom corner as Drogheda lead 1-0.
Drogheda looked to extend their advantage after the restart as Doyle slipped in Killian Philips, who then left Dummigan in his wake before his shot was well saved by Abibi.
The resulting corner, delivered by Markey, was headed over by Doyle before at the other end, Hoban had a shot kept out by Odumosu after Drogheda failed to clear their lines.
Drogheda made it 2-0 on 56 minutes when the unplayable Doyle burst through out of his own half before playing it out to the scampering Kane and his cross was met at the back post by Doyle, who headed home as Drogheda looked destined for a famous victory.
However, just two minutes later, Dundalk got themselves back into the game through Duffy, who after being set up by Dummigan, drilled his powerful shot through Odumosu.
Disappointingly for Dundalk, they never looked likely to find an equaliser throughout the rest of the game, with Sean Murray’s wayward header late on the best they could offer.
Dundalk FC: Alessio Abibi; Raivis Jurkovskis, Daniel Cleary (Sonni Nattestad 8), Andy Boyle, Cameron Dummigan; Sam Stanton, Greg Sloggett (Sean Murray HT); Sami Ben Amar (Han Jeong-Woo 60), Will Patching, Michael Duffy; Patrick Hoban
Subs not used: Cameron Yates (gk), Wilfried Zahibo, Mayowa Animasahun, Val Adedokun, Daniel Kelly, Ryan O’Kane
Drogheda United: David Odumosu; James Brown, Joe Redmond, Daniel O’Reilly, Conor Kane; Darragh Markey (Ronan Murray 89), Killian Philips, Gary Deegan, Jake Hyland (Luke Heeney 60), Mark Doyle; Jordan Adeyemo (James Clarke 87)
Subs not used: Colin McCabe (gk), Sam O’Brien, Mohamed Boudiaf, Charles Mutawe, Kaleem Simon, Dane Massey
Referee: Ben Connolly (Dublin)
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