By Robert O’Reilly
Drogheda United have advanced to the second round of the FAI Cup after they upset the odds to beat 10-man Shamrock Rovers 1-0 at United Park.
Chris Lyons netted the winner from the penalty spot after Lee Grace was dismissed for hauling down William Hondermarck as Drogheda comfortably saw out a famous win.
Drogheda United manager Tim Clancy made two changes from the side that drew with Galway United last week as Jake Hyland and Hondermarck started in place of Sean Brennan and Lee Duffy.
Hondermarck set the tone early on for the hosts as he robbed Sam Bone of possession before driving forward but his toe poke was narrowly wide of the bottom corner.
The 17-year-old was central to the key moment of the tie as he exchanged a one-two with Lyons before being pulled to the ground by Grace with the goal at his mercy.
Referee Paul McLaughlin showed no hesitation in issuing the red card as Lyons made no mistake against his former club as he sent Alan Mannus the wrong way.
Rovers almost provided an immediate response when Ronan Finn’s cross from the right was met on the volley by Brando Kavangh who was denied by a stunning fingertip save from Paul Skinner.
Aaron Greene was introduced as a sub at half-time for the visitors and his mazy run almost resulted in the equaliser but he fired into the side netting from close range.
While Rovers dominated the ball, they failed to turn their possession into clearcut chances as both Sean Kavanagh and Bone tried their luck from distance.
Drogheda carried the greater threat going forward and they were unfortunate not to double their lead on 74 minutes as Kealan Dillon’s 25-yard strike cannoned back off the post with Mannus equal to Lyons’ follow-up.
The Hoops continued to throw players forward in hopes of forcing extra-time but it was United that should’ve sealed victory as substitute Rob Manley picked out the run of Hondermarck who fluffed his lines with only Mannus to beat.
Despite four minutes of stoppage time and a succession of corners, the Drogs held on for victory as they advance to the last 16 of the FAI Cup at the expense of the record 24-times winners.
Drogheda United: Paul Skinner; Kevin Farragher, Luke Gallagher, Ciaran Kelly; Colm Deasy, Richie Purdy (Kealan Dillon 66), Jake Hyland, William Hondermarck, Conor Kane; Chris Lyons (Lee Duffy 90), Mark Doyle (Rob Manley 72).
Subs: Luca Gratzer, Lloyd Buckley, Sean Trimble, Eoin McPhillips
Shamrock Rovers: Alan Manus; Joey O’Brien, Roberto Lopez, Lee Grace, Sean Kavanagh; Sam Bone (Brandon Miele 68), Ronan Finn, Dylan Watts; Brandon Kavanagh (Aaron Greene 46), Gary Shaw, Joel Coustrain (Sinclair Armstrong 79).
Subs: Kevin Horgan, Ally Gilchrist, Aaron Bolger, Dean Williams
DroghedaUnited.ie Man of the Match: Chris Lyons