Freddie Draper brace caps perfect week for Drogheda as they make it back-to-back wins against UCD

Drogheda United 3, UCD 1

Celebration time: Drogheda manager Kevin Doherty. Photo: Sportsfile

Seán O'Connor

After defeating the champions in Tallaght last week, Drogheda United returned home and made it back-to-back wins for the first time this season as they came from behind to defeat rock-bottom UCD.

A brace by player of the match Freddie Draper put the hosts ahead at the interval after UCD’s Adam Wells struck an early opener, while Dylan Grimes found the net after the restart to secure the three points, as Kevin Doherty’s side jumped to seventh after their best-attacking display of 2023.

After a seven-match winless run, concerns were growing that the Louth outfit would get dragged into a relegation battle, but after taking maximum points against Shamrock Rovers and UCD, they are now five points off sixth and will go into next week’s big home clash against Cork City with momentum behind them.

The hosts, missing influential midfielder Gary Deegan through suspension, were slow out of the blocks, though, and paid the price on 19 minutes. Wells, operating at left wing-back, found himself unmarked just inside the box and drilled a side-footed effort into the bottom corner to give the Students an early lead.

UCD went inches from doubling their advantage moments later as Jake Doyle’s curling effort cracked the crossbar. The early concession made Drogheda step up a gear, as midfielder Darragh Markey and Lincoln City loanee Draper began to trouble the visiting rearguard.

After several near misses, the pair combined to draw the hosts level on 42 minutes. Markey embarked on a fine mazy run before slotting Draper through with an excellent ball, and the striker coolly finished under the onrushing Kian Moore.

The 18-year-old then made it two goals in two minutes, putting his side in front after being picked out by a superb Aaron McNally cross before producing a poacher’s finish to bag his fifth goal in six starts.

After weathering some UCD pressure, the hosts made sure of the three points on 67 minutes, as Draper knocked the ball towards Grimes, who struck for his second of the season to round off a perfect seven days for Doherty’s side.

Drogheda United – McCabe; Ahui, Adegboyega, Keeley, McNally; Brennan, Heeney (O’Brien 92); Grimes (Leddy 80), Markey, Rooney; Draper (Foley 77).

UCD – Moore, Keaney, O’Brien, Osam (Bolton 73); Higgins (Gallagher 54), Keane (Alonge 73), Nolan (Barr 56), Behan, Wells; Norris, Doyle (Kinsella-Bishop 73).

Ref – K O’Sullivan

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