Dublin University Association Football Club (DUAFC) moved to the summit of the Division 1B table last night with a hard-earned 1-0 win away at fellow promotion-chasers Mullingar Athletic. A second-half goal from Muhanned Bukhatwa handed Trinity a third league win in a row, leapfrogging Mullingar in the process.
Games may be coming thick and fast as the season races to its conclusion, but DUAFC fielded a near-full-strength side last night. The students quickly settled into the game, playing the possession football that has set them apart from so many of their opponents this year. Mullingar, though, also grew into proceedings as the first half went on, pinning Trinity back at times with some direct football.
DUAFC goalkeeper Devin Connolly saved a penalty midway through the first half to keep his side in it, getting down well to his left to keep out a bottom-corner-bound effort. At the other end, Trinity failed to create any meaningful opportunities, limited for the most part to snapshots and half-chances.
Mullingar had Connolly worried once again just after the break but didn’t manage to convert a golden opportunity. It was a let-off for DUAFC, and they duly capitalised on their good fortune. Dan Smith’s flick-on found Muhanned Bukhatwa free in the box, and the striker made no mistake, calmly finding the bottom corner.
With much at stake, Mullingar threw everything at DUAFC in search of an equaliser, opting more and more for the long ball with the wind in their favour. Connolly, though, was reliable throughout, assertive under the high ball and quick-witted enough to deal with any efforts on goal.
The hosts became increasingly frustrated as the game wound down, and had a man sent off with 10 minutes remaining. DUAFC were stoic in defence until the last, keeping things tight as Mullingar’s front players went in search of the elusive leveller. It was a huge win for the students, who now vie for top spot with CIE Ranch FC. With two games remaining, DUAFC travel to Confey at the weekend knowing another win is crucial to their promotion prospects.