Dublin City University (DCU) strolled to a 5-1 victory over Dublin University Association Football Club (DUAFC) yesterday in the Colleges and Universities Premier Division North. Played in a typically breezy College Park, the game marked Trinity’s first competitive defeat of the season.
DCU began the game the stronger of the two sides, dominating possession early on. Trinity were well organised defensively, comfortably defending three corners in the opening 15 minutes. Trinity defended deep, playing with a four-two-three-one formation which served to frustrate DCU. However, the hosts struggled to maintain possession, unsettled by the high pressure DCU were offering.
Against the run of play, the hosts found themselves in the lead after 20 minutes. Some intricate passing by Trinity on the right-hand side resulted in a measured ball played in between the DCU center backs to striker Mark Wadid who found himself with a rare opportunity. Wadid calmly placed the ball under the onrushing DCU keeper to put Trinity in front.
The pattern of the game continued in a similar fashion after the goal, with DCU holding on to possession and stretching Trinity by switching play. The first clear-cut opening for DCU came after 25 minutes, when Trinity lost possession from a throw-in deep inside their own half. A quick pass from the left-hand side found a DCU striker on the edge of the box who saw his shot clip the crossbar on its way over. With pressure mounting, a goal by DCU looked inevitable. A good ball into the box was cleared by the Trinity defence only to fall kindly for a DCU midfielder, Jack O’Connor, whose low shot rolled into the bottom left corner past the outstretched Devon Connolly.
After the equaliser, the game began to open up, as Trinity began to tire having spent most of the opening half hour chasing the ball. The second goal for DCU came after Trinity were dispossessed while trying to play the ball out from the back. Another well struck effort from the edge of the box, this time from striker Alan O’Sullivan, hit the net to put the visitors in the lead.
On the stroke of half-time, the Trinity goalkeeper brought down a DCU player in the box during a goalmouth scramble. The referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. O’Sullivan converted the penalty, sending Connolly the wrong way with a perfectly placed strike.
The second half saw an early opening for the DCU striker as a through ball broke the Trinity defence. However, faced with an onrushing attacker, Connolly made himself big to stop the effort and keep Trinity in the match. Trinity began to enjoy more possession after this let-off, Jason Boateng disrupting DCU’s passing with a number of hard challenges in the middle of the field. However, Trinity were failing to create any clear chances and as the second half progressed the game became scrappy.
Trinity turned to the bench in search of goals, using all three substitutions by midway through the second half. Regular skipper Robbie Gaul began causing trouble for the DCU left back with some quick footwork. Despite the good play, Trinity failed to produce any chances.
With 15 minutes remaining, the visitors killed off any hope of a Trinity comeback when Peter Healy took down a DCU player just inside the area with a mistimed tackle. O’Sullivan blasted the ball low and hard into the corner to complete his hat-trick.
Trinity’s best chance of the second half came when Gaul beat the DCU right back on the edge of the box with a stepover, his left footed shot flying inches over the bar.
With just a few minutes remaining, a long range shot by DCU was spectacularly saved by Connolly, jumping high to the left to tip the ball over. The resulting corner saw Eric Whelan find himself free in the six-yard box. He made no mistake, heading home to make it 1-5 to the visitors.
It was a tough day in College Park for Trinity as they tasted defeat for the first time this season. The final score somewhat flattered DCU, but the victory was certainly merited.