Colm Coss on the attack for Portlaoise AFC. Pic: Denis Byrne
Ger Dunne cut the figure of a frustrated man last Wednesday night as his side were held to yet another draw, this time at home to St James’s Gate.
The sides last met last season in the league where both managed to gain promotion, however it looks like both could be in relegation trouble if their recent form does not improve.
Portlaoise were awarded a penalty just two minutes in, as Jason Murphy was taken down by goalkeeper Adam Roche, after a sublime pass by Jody Dillon. A self-assured Murphy stepped up, and dispatched without breaking a sweat.
Jody Dillon’s main attribute would be his hold-up play and finishing, but he nearly set up another soon after, only for midfielder Colm Coss to get caught in two minds and the chance was missed.
St James’s Gate grabbed an equaliser very much against the run of play, as it had been all Portlaoise up to the eighteenth minute. Portlaoise’s defence was nowhere to be seen, as Cian Nolan slipped the ball into the path of Jamie Walsh, who finished past Mateusz Cwienk.
With all of Portlaoise’s hard work undone, they were back to square one. The remainder of the half played out like most of Portlaoise’s games so far this season, the home side playing supreme football at times, but lacking a killer instinct for goal. To be fair, St James’s Gate grew into the game a lot more as the half progressed, and Portlaoise were dealt a hammer blow on the stroke of half-time.
Jamie Walsh, who was very much the orchestrator of everything positive about St James’s Gate going forward, delivered an inviting set-piece delivery, and Gerard Cleary flicked his header over Mateusz Cwienk and hand St James’s Gate the advantage at the break.
Portlaoise knew they had to up it in the second half, and Murphy had the first chance when play resumed. He had scored from a free-kick from around the same position only a week ago, but this time his shot went safely over the bar. He then turned provider for Colm Poole, but he fluffed his lines and blazed over.
James Mullaney made a surging run from centre-back in an attempt to aid his front men, and he sent in a great ball to Coss, but he mistimed the shot, and Murphy couldn’t leap high enough to steer it home.
However, Coss made amends for his miss a few minutes later, as Portlaoise’s pressure finally got a result, as Coss placed it past Adam Roche.
Another blow to Portlaoise would occur seventy-two minutes in, as Jason Caffrey saw straight red for an apparent kick on a St James’s Gate man, although the Portlaoise sideline disagreed strongly with the call.
Substitute Augelo Mamselle could’ve won it late on, but Cwienk smothered the shot well. Jody Dillon had the last chance of the game, but he misdirected a free header and Portlaoise will once again be ruing countless missed opportunities.
Portlaoise: Matuesz Cwienk, Oisin Fitzpatrick, Eoghan White (C), Mark Dunne, James Mullaney, Jason Caffrey, Emmanuel Okpara, Colm Coss, Jason Murphy, Jody Dillon, Colm Poole. Subs: Danny Molloy, Brian Ging.
St James’s Gate: Adam Roche, Shane Cairn, James Fennell, Marty McCoy, Dwayne Kelly, Jeremy Shaw, Lee English, Jamie Walsh, Gerard Cleary, Cian Nolan, Shane Muldowney. Subs: Augelo Mamselle, John O’Connor, Kevin Callaghan.