By Robert O’Reilly
Drogheda United have moved to within four points of First Division leaders UCD after they defeated Cobh Ramblers 2-1 at a sunny United Park.
Luke Gallagher struck the winner for the Boynesiders early in the second-half after Ciaran Kelly’s opener had been cancelled out by Athony McAlavey’s controversial penalty.
Drogheda United manager Tim Clancy made two changes from the side that lost to Longford Town a fortnight ago as Lee Duffy and Kealan Dillon started in place of the suspended pair of Jake Hyland and Sean Brennan.
The deadlock was broken with only a quarter of an hour played as Cobh keeper Paul Hunt fumbled a punch in the penalty area under pressure from Chris Lyons and Kelly reacted quickest for his fourth of the season.
Cobh’s response was almost immediate as an ambitious 30-yard volley from Dave Hurley cannoned back off the crossbar with Paul Skinner beaten.
The visitors levelled on 25’ minutes when referee John McLaughlin deemed Kealan Dillon to have intentionally handled the ball in the box and McAlavey made no mistake from the spot.
Drogheda took time to compose themselves after the concession of the goal and Denzil Fernandes almost punished them as his powerful drive from the edge of the box was well held by Skinner.
A swift counter-attack by the Drogs should’ve seen them regain the lead as Mark Doyle picked out Duffy but his strike from a tight angle went narrowly wide.
Gareth McCaffrey was next to try his luck as he turned his man on the half-way line but his low effort was parried away by Hunt as the sides went into the break on level terms.
Drogs keeper Skinner was called into action early in the second-half when he produced a fingertip save to push James McSweeney’s header over the bar.
The game was getting stretched at this stage with both sides searching for the lead with Hunt denying both Lyons and Duffy in quick succession.
Drogheda’s perseverance was rewarded on 54’ minutes when Cobh failed to clear a corner-kick with the ball falling to Gallagher at the back post who powered a strike beyond the former Longford Town keeper.
The visitors’ greatest threat came from set-pieces and their best chance of an equaliser came when Ben O’Riordan connected with a corner-kick from the right but his header was again parried behind by Skinner.
A first win in four for United who will be looking to make it back-to-back wins when they face Finn Harps at United Park next Friday.
Drogheda United Team: Paul Skinner; Colm Deasy, Kevin Farragher, Luke Gallagher. Ciaran Kelly; Kealan Dillon, Richie Purdy (Victor Ekanem 90’); Mark Doyle (Eoin McPhillips 87’), Gareth McCaffrey, Lee Duffy (William Hondermarck 70’); Chris Lyons
Substitutes: Luca Gratzer, Lloyd Buckley, Sean Cronin, Jordan Adeyemo
Cobh Ramblers: Paul Hunt; Kevin Taylor, Ben O’Riordan, James McSweeney, Matthew Lambe (Darren Murphy 64’); Stephen Christopher (Charlie Fleming 69’), Dave Hurley, Denzil Fernnades, Anthony McAlavey, Pierce Phillips; Jaze Kabia (Liam Cronin 78’
Subs: Craig Donnellan, Adam Mylod, Andrew Wall
DroghedaUnited.ie Man of the Match: Colm Deasy