DCU qualify for knock-out stages – DCU 3 ITT 2

Michael Isichei’s second half winner guaranteed DCU at a least a runners-up spot in the CUFL Premier Division East, after making very hard work of a brave but hapless IT Tallaght. DCU started the day three points clear at the top of the table, needing either DIT or UCD to slip up to ensure qualification before facing the former on the final day.

UCD obliged, losing 3-1 to IT Blanchardstown and rubberstamping DCU’s emergence from the group stage for the first time. It will be a case of winner-takes-all when Declan Roche’s men travel to DIT on the 20th of this month. They still have the aforementioned three point cushion, but only the slightest of goal difference advantages. A minimum of a draw is required to take the group.

In light of this performance DCU will hardly be brimming with confidence, as it proved their least convincing to date. There were countless unforced passing errors and, at times, they looked downright disinterested, perhaps taking their opponents a little lightly. This side can be a frustrating dichotomy, begging the question; why is a team this tenacious in regaining possession, so cavalier about giving it away?

DCU did start brightly, with Darren McMahon forcing a good save from Michael Mahon after some neat build-up play with David Lodola in the opening minute.

Stephen Traynor’s goal after eleven minutes was the highlight of the afternoon. David Gaul and Philip O’Driscoll-as they did all afternoon- combined to launch an attack down the left flank, Michael Isichei retrieved O’Driscoll’s loose ball before laying it off for the oncoming Traynor, who rifled home from thirty yards.

Without the suspended Mark Logan, DCU looked unsure when defending set-pieces and Tallaght were able to exploit this to find an equaliser. Raphael Hagenbuch cheaply gave away a free-kick on the edge of the area, which Alan Byrne floated into the danger zone, Izzi Aliande rose highest to head past Ben Dale.

DCU continued to cough up the ball time and again, and if Tallaght had had a cutting edge to match their work rate, things could have been very different. For their part, the visitors were content with hitting hopeful balls into a strong wind.

Considering the time and space they were afforded, DCU were always going to score again; David Lodola latched onto an in-swinging O’Driscoll corner at the near post, restoring the advantage.

DCU came back from the interval looking a little more cohesive, but soon reverted to type, and continued to make life difficult for themselves. Consequently, Tallaght squared the tie again, when Rob Meadow’s deflected shot looped over Ben Dale.

To be fair, from that point, the hosts went about their business as best they could. Top goal scorer Michael Isichei provided the decisive score for the second game running. After being denied a blatant penalty seconds earlier, it was no more than deserved. Stephen Traynor crossed in from the right hand-side, and after a goal-mouth scramble, Isichei finished from point blank range

Tom Rooney at St. Clare’s

Image Credit: Sportsfile

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