By Robert O’Reilly
Drogheda United have leapfrogged UCD into second place in the table after they recorded an impressive 2-0 win over 10-man Shelbourne at Tolka Park.
Goalkeeper Jack Brady’s red card on 28 minutes presented Sean Thornton with the opportunity to break the deadlock and United sealed victory late on through winger Aaron Ashe to all but end Shels’ play-off hopes.
Drogheda United manager Pete Mahon made three changes from the side that defeated Athlone Town as Thornton and Colm Deasy were restored to the starting line-up while new signing Gareth McCaffrey made his debut having signed on loan from Shamrock Rovers last week.
It was the hosts who started the brighter and they created the first opportunity of the game with a quarter of an hour played as Jamie Doyle released James English through on goal but the striker’s effort was well saved by the legs of Drogs’ keeper Stephen McGuinness.
Drogheda started to impose themselves on the ball and they gained the ascendancy on 28 minutes as Marc Griffin was played through on goal and he was taken down by Brady as he attempted to round the keeper in the penalty area. Referee Sean Grant produced the red card and substitute Greg Murray was helpless as Thornton successfully dispatched the spot-kick.
With a man advantage, Drogheda looked to double their lead before the break and they missed a series of chances. Sean Brennan sent a long range strike over the bar and then Griffin saw his dipping volley fly narrowly wide. Gareth McCaffrey, who was impressive on his debut, had the final chance of the half as he turned his marker before firing into the side netting.
Drogheda dominated the play as they went in search of a second and excellent build-up play between Deasy and McCaffrey resulted in the latter firing a strike in on goal which was well saved by Murray.
Shells threw players forward late on in a desperate attempt to snatch an equaliser but it was United who caught them on the break as Liam Donnelly brought the ball up the pitch before sliding Ashe through on goal and he finished past Murray for his seventh league goal of the season.
Drogheda will have the opportunity to make it three wins on the bounce next week when they host second from bottom Cabinteely at United Park.
Ryan Robinson (Adam Evans 45)
Lorcan Shannon (Dylan Grimes 77)
Stephen Elliot (Greg Murray 28)
Sean Brennan (John McKeown 81)
Marc Griffin (Liam Donnelly 85)
Gareth McCaffrey (Derek Doyle 77)