Mikey Place who went close to scoring for Finn Harps in Friday night's game at Richmond Park PICTURE: STEPHEN DOHERTY
Finn Harps came within seven minutes of earning what would have been a valuable point on Friday night as they went down by a single goal to St. Patrick’s Athletic at Richmond Park.
St Patrick’s Athletic . . . 1
Finn Harps . . 0
It was yet another frustrating night for the Donegal side who must have thought they were on their way to a share of the points having kept St. Pat’s at bay for so long in this game.
However, on 83 minutes substitute Jake Walker latched onto a pass from Dean Clarke and fired to the net past Mark Anthony McGinley.
It was Walker’s first ever senior goal in the League of Ireland and it was enough to condemn Harps to a fifth straight league defeat.
The travelling Harps supporters had watched their team play well in this contest, and create some decent chances of their own. But their failure to convert those opportunities that came their way was to cost them as Walker pounced with a late winner.
83’ finally! Quick break down the right by Clarke. He squares to Walker who score his first league goal of his career! 1-0— St Patrick's Athletic FC (@stpatsfc) June 14, 2019
Tony McNamee, back in the starting eleven on Friday night
Following last Saturday night’s 3-0 loss at home to Dundalk, Ollie Horgan had kept faith with McGinley in goal but there were changes out field with Jacob Borg, Liam Walsh and Niall Logue all losing out while Mark Coyle was missing through suspension.
In came Colm Deasy, Tony McNamee, Gareth Harkin and Nathan Boyle while Caolan McAleer and Sean Boyd, both available after bans, were on the bench.
St. Pat’s needed a win after successive draws with Cork City and Sligo Rovers, yet given that they were 18 points better off than their Donegal opponents prior to kick-off, they entered this match with confidence.
They started well and had Harps under pressure in the early minutes, creating several decent openings.
But Harps held firm and as they grew into the game, they created a good chance of their own on 17 minutes. Cretaro produced a beautiful pass to send Nathan Boyle through on goal but the striker’s weak effort allowed Brendan Clarke to make the save.
Minutes later, the home side were forced into an early substitution when midfielder Rhys McCabe suffered injury and was replaced by Conor Clifford.
In a half of few clear-cut openings, St. Pat’s forced Harps keeper McGinley into action on 27 minutes when he was well placed to deal with a Drennan header.
That chance came from a Simon Madden cross and just after the restart, the defender provided another good delivery which was headed over by Cian Coleman.
As the home pressure continued, a free-kick into the Harps area ended with Kevin Toner firing straight at McGinley.
Just before the hour, Clarke came to his team’s rescue again when he saved from Mikey Place and Boyle’s follow-up was cleared for a corner. From the resulting set-piece, Daniel O’Reilly fired towards goal but saw his shot blocked by Toner.
St. Pat’s made another change, bringing on Jake Walker for Gary Shaw and as they sought the opener, McGinley had to be alert to push a long range Drennan shot over his crossbar.
Harps also made a change with Mark Timlin replacing Cretaro for the final 20 minutes. Almost immediately the Buncrana man found himself played through on goal by Place but he seemed to get caught in two minds and failed to get his shot away in time.
St. Pat’s though always carried a threat and with time running out they scored what proved to be the winner - second half substitutes Clarke and Walker combining to make the breakthrough.
St. Patrick’s Athletic: Brendan Clarke, Simon Madden, Ian Bermingham, Lee Desmond, Ciaran Kelly, Kevin Toner, Cian Coleman, Rhys McCabe (Conor Clifford 23), Mikey Drennnan, Gary Shaw (Jake Walker 61), Chris Forrester (Dean Clarke 76).
Finn Harps: Mark Anthony McGinley, Colm Deasy, Daniel O’Reilly, Sam Todd, Keith Cowan, Tony McNamee (Caolan McAleer 87), Raff Cretaro (Mark Timlin 71), Gareth Harkin, Mikey Place, Nathan Boyle (Sean Boyd 82), Mark Russell.
Referee: Neil Doyle.