Robbie Benson underlined his value to St Patrick’s Athletic with a key role in dramatic and controversial Dublin derby win at home to Bohemians which injected some life back into a title challenge which had appeared to be fading.
ut referee Rob Hennessy was also in the spotlight in a game which saw three penalties awarded, two of them converted, including the injury-time winner from Benson, and a red card for Saints manager Stephen O’Donnell, with most of the drama crammed into a hectic final few minutes.
That injury-time penalty from substitute Benson, after he was felled in the box by Ciaran Kelly, got the points for Pat’s to end their run of three games without a win and put them within three points, however briefly, of leaders Shamrock Rovers.
And that left Bohs ruing an early penalty miss by striker Georgie Kelly against his former club, one of two dead-ball efforts from the away side which struck the crossbar as their three-game unbeaten run came to an end.
It could have all been very different if Kelly had converted a penalty on 12 minutes, awarded after Ali Coote’s free kick came off the hand of defender Lee Desmond in the box, but Kelly’s effort lacked confidence and came off the crossbar. Pat’s struggled to create much with a powerful strike from distance by Sam Bone on 31 minutes the only time that keeper James Talbot was troubled.
Bohs looked more likely to score in the second half, a save from Vitezslav Jaros needed to deny Liam Burt on 54 minutes while in the 70th minute Tyreke Wilson saw his free kick come off the crossbar, and a minute later Jaros saved again, from a Kelly header.
But on 73 minutes sub Benson showed his class with a strong run from midfield and pass to Smith, who used the space well to fire past Talbot and give them the lead.
With two minutes left Bohs were back in the game, a penalty awarded after John Mountney tackled Burt, though the home side claimed, correctly, that the challenge was outside the box. O’Donnell was shown a red card for his protests.
Dawson Devoy struck the penalty home to make it 1-1 but the drama was not over as in added time Ciaran Kelly’s tackle on Benson in the box led to another spot kick, which Benson himself converted.
Saint Patrick’s Athletic: Vitezslav Jaros; John Mountney, Sam Bone, Lee Desmond, Ian Bermingham (captain); Alfie Lewis, Jamie Lennon, Chris Forrester (Robbie Benson, 55′); Mattie Smith, Ronan Coughlan (Ben McCormack, 73′), Billy King (Paddy Barrett, 83′)
Bohemians: James Talbot; Rory Feely, Rob Cornwall (Andy Lyons, 89′), Ciarán Kelly, Tyreke Wilson; Ali Dawson Devoy, Keith Buckley (captain); Ali Coote (Promise Omochere, 85′), Ross Tierney, Liam Burt; Georgie Kelly (Robbie Mahon, 85′)
Referee: Rob Hennessy