MERVUE UNITED 3 FINN HARPS 0
BY JASON BYRNE
FAHY’S FIELD remains an unhappy place for Finn Harps players and supporters alike as Friday night saw the Blues succumb to their fourth successive defeat at the Galway venue against Mervue United in which the hosts thoroughly deserved their first win of the season.
Despite some decent first half opportunities, Harps fell apart after Alan Murphy’s goal on the stroke of half time and Johnny Glynn’s side punished a lacklustre Harps.
Clashes between these two have served up some intriguing games epitomised by the 4-3 thriller which Harps edged last month at Finn Park. But this affair started in a cagey fashion and the first shot on goal came after all of eighteen minutes when Gary Kelly had an ambitious effort flash wide for United.
Two minutes later United had the ball in the net when Pat Hoban darted through following Jason Molloy’s pass but he was penalised for an infringement on Peter Hutton when he had just entered the dangerzone.
Harps’ best chance came five minutes later when Thomas McMonagle played in Blain Curtis and his low shot was well saved by Mervue keeper Ronan Forde.
A minute later, Forde’s opposite number Rory Kelly was called into action when Jason Molloy’s long ball found former Galway United skipper Murphy who did well to hold off the challenge of Ciran Coll, and let fly towards the top left corner and Kelly produced a wonderful save.
The game was finally kicking into life and three minutes later it was Harps’ throw of the dice when Kevin McHugh played in Curtis and just as the St. Johnstone man was about to pull the trigger Marc Ludden timed his tackle to perfection to clear to safety.
With ten minutes to go until half time, Kelly was required again when Molloy darted up the left flank and cut past James Doherty but again the Harps number one showed safe hands.
Harps’ best chance of the game came five minutes later when McHugh picked up an incisive ball from Paul-Simon Treacy and Forde somehow denied him. As the rebound fell to the waiting Curtis, Ludden was at hand again to foil his attempt at giving the visitors a precious lead.
Two minutes later Curtis got another good chance when Shane McGinty battled hard to shrug off two Mervue midfielders and play in a low ball behind the back four; but he screwed his low drive inches wide of the upright.
With a minute left in the half, Mervue hit the front when Harps failed to organise themselves and Shane Keogh tapped a quick free-kick into Murphy’s path and he tapped first-time into the far corner for his first goal since moving to the east side of Galway city.
The goal set a very different tone for a second half in which Harps were on the back foot from the offset. Eight minutes in Pat Hoban was almost sent in by Murphy but Hutton rolled back the years with his pinpoint tackle.
Evidently on the search for a quick second to kill off the game, Ludden sent a long ball up to Molloy four minutes later and after rounding both Coll and the advancing Kelly; the angle became too acute as he lost his balance and watched his effort sail well off target
On the hour mark, Finn Harps finally carved out their first meaningful chance of the half when Adam Clarke sent McHugh on his way and after holding off Ludden he let fly only to see Forde once again palm clear.
Three minutes later, another chance fell Harps’ way when a long Clarke free was flicked on by the head of McHugh but Forde this time caught when it could have crept inside the post.
Mervue to their credit weathered this brief storm from their opponents and a swift break saw Molloy link up well with Murphy who fed the advancing Hoban – and the former Bristol City man should have done better after blazing over.
After dominating possession for the following ten minutes, United netted a superb second when Ludden’s ball to Molloy beat the offside trap and he lofted the ball into the top corner giving Kelly no chance and sealing all three points.
Harps at this stage looked a well beaten docket and this was emphasised in stoppage time when Murphy played in substitute Barry McEntee with those in white shirts looking flat; and the youngster tapped home with ease.
A forgetful night, Harps need to win in their next outing against Athlone at Finn Park this weekend to avoid three defeats on the bounce and a possible heavy fall down the first division table.
MERVUE UNITED: R Forde; M McSweeny, D O’Rourke, M Elwood, M Ludden; A Lee, G Kelly (B McEntee 76mins), S Keogh, J Molloy; P Hoban (M Collins 90mins), A Murphy.
FINN HARPS: R Kelly; J Doherty, P Hutton, T McMonagle, C Coll; A Clarke, S McGowan, S McGinty, PS Treacy (M Harkin 61mins); K McHugh, B Curtis.
Referee: P Tuite (Dublin)