FINN Harps fell to a first home defeat of 2021 as Billy King and Matty Smith maintained St Patrick’s Athletic’s unbeaten start to the season.
Finn Harps 0 St Patrick’s Athletic 2
By Chris McNulty at Finn Park. Pictures by Joe Boland, North West Newspix
King and Smith netted in either half put Pat’s on their way to a deserved win that keeps them at the summit.
Stephen O’Donnell’s men were the better side on a night when the hosts saw a homecoming for debutant defender Johnny Dunleavy.
The former Wolverhampton Wanderers youth signed for Harps earlier this week after having injury-interrupted spells at Cork City and Sligo Rovers in recent seasons.
The Ballybofey man, a boyhood Harps fan, performed well over his first 67 minutes in the colours of his hometown club, who were not found wanting for effort, even if their final product didn’t work the Pat’s goalkeeper Vitezlav Jaros.
But it was a frustrating night for Harps, who fell to defeat and drew a blank for a third time in seven days, following a 1-0 defeat to Sligo last weekend and a 0-0 draw at Longford on Tuesday.
Pat’s hit the front on the half-hour. King was given too much time space – and Harps were made pay. After getting around three Harps players, King fired emphatically past Mark Anthony McGinley from 18 yards.
While Harps stood off, it certainly wasn’t on a plate for the Pat’s attacker, who manoeuvred superbly to create and convert the chance.
Harps had a warning moments early when, from a Pat’s counter-attack, Ian Bermingham’s deep cross was met by John Mountney, whose crisp first-time effort was inches past the far post.
The Saints, entering the weekend at the top of the table on goal difference, had an early sight of goal, but Sam Bone flicked a header just off target after getting on the end of Chris Forrester’s dangerous corner.
On-loan Hibs striker Ryan Shanley was given a first start in Harps colours with Stephen Folan and Karl O’Sullivan returned to the starting XI.
Harps had a promising opening in the 23rd minute when Barry McNamee cleverly found Karl O’Sullivan on the edge of the box. O’Sullivan’s first touch invited the shot, but his effort flew over the top.
Captain Dave Webster fired at Jaros early in the second half and, as the hosts sought a way back into it, Ollie Horgan threw on top scorer Adam Foley, Sean Boyd and Stephen Doherty before the hour.
However, in the 61st minute, Smith rose beyond Kosovar Sadiki to meet Ronan Coughlan’s cross and glance a header past McGinley.
Harps showed some decent moments with Ryan Rainey – another former Wolves schoolboy – given his Harps bow as a second half sub and the ex-Bonagee United player was full of endeavour and energy.
By then, though, Pat’s had the heavy lifting done.
Finn Harps: Mark Anthony McGinley; Dave Webster, Kosovar Sadiki (Tony McNamee 75), Stephen Folan, Johnny Dunleavy (Ryan Rainey 67); Mark Coyle, Will Seymore; Karl O’Sullivan (Sean Boyd 58), Barry McNamee, Mark Russell (Stephen Doherty 58), Ryan Shanley (Adam Foley 58).
St Patrick’s Athletic: Vitezlav Jaros; Sam Bone, Paddy Barrett, Lee Desmond; John Mountney, Jamie Lennon, Chris Forrester, Billy King (Ben McCormack 84), Ian Bermingham (Shane Griffin 84); Matty Smith; Ronan Coughlan.
Referee: Rob HarveyTags: