By Robert O’Reilly
Drogheda United have recorded back to back wins for the first time this season as they defeated Cobh Ramblers 1-0 in a bruising encounter at United Park.
Aaron Ashe opened the scoring after 25 minutes and despite both sides creating presentable opportunities, his strike proved to be the winner as Drogheda leapfrogged their opponents into second place in the table.
Drogheda United manager Pete Mahon made three changes from the side that won away to Waterford last week as Colm Deasy, Sean Thornton and Marc Griffin started in place of Lloyd Buckley, Jake Hyland and Sam O’Connor.
Both sides gave possession away at will in the opening stages of the game and it was the visitors who had the first genuine chance on 20 minutes as a long ball over the top saw Markus Gustavsson capitalise on some slack defending but his weak header was simple for Stephen McGuinness.
Drogheda’s breakthrough came against the run of play as a long ball from McGuinness was flicked into the path of Griffin and the striker picked out the run of Ashe with a superb first time ball and he fired low and hard beyond Paul Hunt to net his third goal of the season.
Sean Brennan was next to test Hunt in goal as his snap shot from Thornton’s deflected free-kick was parried away by the former Longford Town goalkeeper while Griffin fired wide from the edge of the box on the stroke of half-time as United took a narrow advantage into the interval.
Despite Cobh applying some pressure on the Drogheda goal, it was the hosts who were creating all the chances as Deasy’s cross from the right was headed out to Aaron Molloy and the midfielder’s superb half-volley looked destined for the top corner before Hunt’s sensational intervention.
In an attempt to draw level, Cobh manager Stephen Henderson brought on centre back Andy O’Connell on as an emergency striker but aside from a few dangerous crosses into the penalty area, McGuinness remained untested despite Drogheda’s slender lead.
Indeed, the Boynesiders should have sealed victory in stoppage time as inventive play out wide by substitute Liam Donnelly saw him pull the ball back to the onrushing Thornton but the Drogheda captain fluffed his lines as his strike flew high over the bar.
The only negative for United will be the injuries sustained on the night with Deasy, Griffin and Donnelly all picking up knocks and Mahon will be hoping that his side will be at full strength next week when they travel to Lissywollen to face Athlone town.
Colm Deasy (Lloyd Buckley 89)
Sean Brennan (Jake Hyland 84)
Marc Griffin (Liam Donnelly 73)
Evan Galvin (Eoin McGreevy 82)
Markus Gustavsson (Andy O’Connell 73)
Aaron Ashe 25