By Robert O’Reilly
Two second-half goals for Shamrock Rovers were enough to see them defeat Drogheda United 2-0 at United Park.
After an even first-half, Rovers made their dominance in possession count with Ronan Finn and Brandon Miele sealing victory.
Drogheda United manager Pete Mahon made two changes from the side that lost 2-1 away to Derry City last week as Luke Gallagher and Mark Doyle replaced Dave Mulcahy and Adam Wixted.
Rovers enjoyed the majority of possession from kick-off but it was the hosts who had the first opportunity of the game. A fine ball from Lloyd Buckley out of defence found Shane Elworthy who crossed for Stephen Elliott but the former Ireland international’s strike narrowly missed the top corner.
An intricate one-touch move just outside the Drogheda penalty area almost played Gary Shaw through on goal but he was denied by a last-ditch interception by Luke Gallagher.
Despite a succession of corner for the Hoops, they failed to really test Stephen McGuinness in goal with Lee Grace, Miele and James Doona all resorting to shots from distance.
The closest they came to breaking the deadlock was on 38 minutes when Shaw’s cross from the right picked out Doona who swivelled in the box before seeing his low strike held by McGuinness.
Drogheda should’ve gone into the lead at the as Sean Brennan’s corner—kick from the right was met by Elliott who headed wide at the backpost under pressure.
Rovers eventually made the breakthrough early in the second-half as they broke Drogheda’s high offside line leaving Miele with the simple task of laying the ball off for Finn who rolled it into the empty net.
Shaw came close to doubling the visitors’ advantage as he drove forward from the left before cutting inside though McGuinness produced a fine fingertip save to push the ball around the post.
The Hoops got the crucial second goal with 20 minutes remaining as Miele and Doona exchanged passes in the Drogheda penalty area leaving the former with a straight forward finish for his fourth goal in five games.
Substitute Sean Boyd came close to getting a third late on but it mattered little as Rovers ran out deserved winners.
Drogheda will be back in action next Saturday when they face Limerick at the Markets Field.
Drogheda United: Stephen McGuinness; Colm Deasy, Luke Gallagher, Lloyd Buckley, Conor Kane; Ryan McEvoy (Jack Bayly 68’), Richie Purdy; Shane Elworthy, Sean Brennan, Mark Doyle; Stephen Elliott (Stephen Meaney 65’)
Subs: Dylan Sweeney, Kevin Farragher, Sean Russell, Adam Wixted, Jack Bayly, Jamie Hollywood,
Shamrock Rovers: Tomer Chencinski; Simon Madden, Lee Grace, David Webster, Dean Carpenter; Brandon Miele, Ronan Finn, David McAllister, Ryan Connolly, James Doona; Gary Shaw
Subs: Kevin Horgan, Luke Byrne, Sean Boyd, Darren Clarke, Cameron King, Sam Bone, Michael O’Connor
DroghedaUnited.ie Man of the Match: Mark Doyle