by Robert O'Reilly
A solitary strike from Brandon Miele was enough for Shamrock Rovers to secure their 13th successive victory over Drogheda United at United Park.
The in-form winger capitalised on a mistake by Mark Hughes as he advanced on goal before firing low into the bottom corner from the edge of the box for the first half winner.
Drogheda United manager Johnny McDonnell made one change from last week’s 1-1 draw with Longford Town as Ger Pender replaced Jason Marks with Lee Duffy and Tiarnan Mulvenna lining out on the wings.
The visitors took early control of the game and they came close to opening the scoring on eight minutes as Simon Madden was afforded too much space on the right and he crossed for Gavin Brennan but the former Drogheda man’s header went narrowly wide.
Drogheda weathered the storm and they created their first opening on 22 minutes when Sean Brennan released Lee Duffy on the right wing and his cross found Tiarnan Mulvenna but he was unable to keep his shot on target.
It was just as Drogheda were growing in confidence when Rovers scored the decisive winner. A quick break resulted in Mark Hughes being pressured by Miele inside his own half and his under-hit pass was intercepted by the winger who advanced goalwards before finding the bottom corner.
Rovers came close to doubling their lead on the hour mark as a corner from Gary McCabe was met by Gavin Brennan but his brother Sean denied him with a goal line clearance.
In a tight contest, Drogheda’s best chance of an equaliser came when Sean Thornton picked out Mick Daly on the right and his low ball was flicked on by Ger Pender but a vital deflection off David Webster sent the ball behind for a corner.
The home side had a strong appeal for a penalty turned down as Duffy dribbled past Conor Kenna on the wing only to be obstructed in the box by Webster with the defender making no contact with the ball.
A handball from Patrick Cregg presented the Boynesiders with a late chance to level but Sean Brennan sent his free kick straight into the wall as Rovers held on for the win.
Drogheda remain in ninth in the table after the defeat and they will be hoping for a better result when they travel to face Bray Wanderers next Saturday in a crucial clash.
Mark Hughes (Stephen Maher 75)
Tiarnan Mulvenna (Robert McKenna 83)
Gerald Pender (Jason Marks 65)
Ryan Brennan (Cian Kavanagh 85)
Danny North (Mikey Drennan 78)
Kieran Marty Waters