In a game sparse on chances, Brandon Miele’s eighth league goal of the season was enough to see Shamrock Rovers take all three points from United Park on Friday night.
The 1-0 win over Drogheda United sees Pat Fenlon’s side keep pace with St Patrick's Athletic s as they remain in fourth place, level on points with the Saints.
The visitors showed their intention early when Luke Byrne mistimed a header inside the first 60 seconds. Gavin Brennan almost opened the scoring on seven minutes when he, unmarked, met Simon Madden’s cross but he directed his header to the left of Drogs 'keeper Michael Schinlingermann’s post and wide.
Johnny McDonnell named a very attacking side and it showed as they were giving Rovers too much time and space in the opening exchanges, Danny North was allowed drift in from the wings to cause real trouble for the back four. He almost profited when Gavin Brennan picked him out in the box but his effort was blocked by Joe Gorman.
Struggling to get into the game, Drogheda’s first chance was a harmless effort by Mark Hughes. However it sparked Drogheda into life and through Duffy, who had the beating of Byrne, they fashioned an effort for Mulvenna but he blazed his volley over.
Rovers' goal came from sheer persistence by Miele. From a Drogheda corner, earned after a period of sustained pressure from the home side, Hoops 'keeper Craig Hyland claimed with authority and instantly threw the ball down the wing where Hughes should have taken possession.
However, with Miele snapping at his heals, he attempted to square the ball to Gorman and slipped, allowing the Rovers attacker to nip in, race through on goal unabated and shoot low past Schlingermann.
Rovers were unlucky not to be awarded a penalty when Ryan Brennan was pushed in the box by Gorman only to see referee Paul McLaughlin wave play-on. Drogheda finished the half on a high note as Sean Thornton, at the back post, brilliantly hit a diving header that was parried by Hyland – but the linesman’s flag had been raised for offside.
Killian Brennan scored against the Boynesiders in their last home game when Pat's came to Drogheda, and brother Sean made sure Killian was the only Brennan to do so as he was one the line to block other brother Gavin’s goalbound effort minutes after the restart.
Drogheda’s best chance of a leveller came soon after when Mick Daly got wide on the right-wing and he squared a ball for Ger Pender, but his low flick was blocked behind by David Webster. Alan Byrne came racing in from the resultant corner but his header flew over the bar.
Despite all their possession Rovers were unable to carve out any clear cut chances with the Tallaght side content to play on the counter. Twice Alan Byrne made timely interceptions, but a lot of Rovers' attacks simply petered out. Duffy was unlucky not to get a penalty after being blocked by Webster in the box just after the hour mark.
Two late Sean Brennan frees were defended by Rovers as Drogheda laid siege to the Dublin team’s goal but were unable to find an equaliser.
Drogheda United: Michael Schlingermann, Joe Gorman, Alan Byrne, Robert O’Reilly, Mick Daly, Ger Pender (Jason Marks, 65), Sean Brennan, Sean Thornton, Mark Hughes (Stephen Maher, 76), Tiarnan Mulvenna (Bob McKenna, 83), Lee Duffy.
Subs Not Used: Evin Farrell, Adam Whelan , Robert Bayly, Lloyd Buckley.
Booked: Mulvenna (37), Thornton (41).
Shamrock Rovers: Craig Hyland, Simon Madden, Conor Kenna, Dave Webster, Luke Byrne, Gary McCabe, Patrick Cregg, Brandon Miele, Ryan Brennan (Cian Kavanagh, 86), Gavin Brennan, Danny North (Mikey Drennan, 79),
Subs Not Used: Barry Murphy, Maxime Blanchard, David O’Connor, Kieran Marty Waters, Gareth McCaffery.
Booked: Drennan (83). Cregg (88).
Referee: Paul McLaughlin (Donegal).
Extratime.ie Player of the Match: Brandon Miele (Shamrock Rovers).