Gerard Grimes reports from United Park
A stunning late strike from James English saw the points shared at United Park on Friday evening after Sean Brennan’s penalty had given Drogheda United the lead.
It was Shelbourne who started the better of the two sides, putting the Boynesiders under constant pressure in the opening 20 minutes.
Adam Evans was at the centre of the action and his run forward after three minutes saw him beat a number of Drogheda players, but his shot was blocked just as he looked to strike for goal.
Shels continued to press and David O’Sullivan’s first chance of the game came on eight minutes as he met James Brown’s deflected cross but his effort was over the bar.
O’Sullivan was gifted another chance two minutes later as a lapse in concentration from Conor Kane allowed the Shels striker a sight at goal.
He took a touch but his effort was blocked by a last ditch sliding tackle by Kevin Farragher before being gathered by Skinner.
The pressure from the visitors continued and they almost opened the scoring on 22 minutes.
From a throw in on the right, Brown played a one-two with O’Sullivan in the box, with the full back shooting low and narrowly wide of Paul Skinner’s far post via a deflection off a Drogheda man.
Drogheda began to work themselves into the game, with Duffy dragging an effort wide from 25 yards before a heavy first touch from Doyle took the ball away from him as he closed in on goal.
Drogheda’s first shot on target came on 33 minutes as Deasy’s long ball was controlled by Chris Lyons, who controlled well and released to Doyle on the right.
Doyle’s first touch was good this time but his effort from a narrow angle was straight at Delany.
Lee Duffy was next to try for Drogheda as he picked up the ball from a Doyle pass inside his own half before running at Shelbourne, beating a number of men.
He worked his way to left side of the Shelbourne box, cut back on his right and shot wide of Delany’s far post.
Drogheda’s period of sustained pressure almost reaped rewards four minutes before the break as they worked the ball to captain Jake Hyland.
Hyland switched the ball onto his right foot and with nobody closing him down, looked to place the ball in the top far corner but his effort bounced back off the upright.
The first chance of the second half went Drogheda’s way as Brennan’s corner found Doyle at the back post but Delany was equal to his effort.
Shelbourne were still in what was now an even game as substitute Jamie Doyle – fresh from scoring a hattrick against Drogheda in the EA Sports Cup midweek – played a long ball to the backpost to English, who headed wide.
It would be Drogheda who would take the lead though as they were awarded a penalty with twenty minutes to play after Alan Byrne was adjudged to have fouled Doyle.
After some confusion over whether or not the foul had been committed inside the box, the referee pointed to the spot and Brennan stepped up, sending Delany the wrong way.
Shels almost hit back inside five minutes as a long ball up was flicked on, first by O’Sullivan and then Jamie Doyle.
Evans was the man following it in and slid to meet the ball before Skinner but his effort rolled wide of the far post.
Shelbourne would find a deserved equaliser though with six minutes to play as Drogheda failed to fully clear a succession of corners.
They worked the ball out left to English, who moved the ball onto his right, away from his man and curled a stunning effort into the bottom far corner of Paul Skinner’s net.
The visitors almost claimed all three points with the final chance in the second minute of additional time as O’Sullivan played the ball to goalscorer English.
He beat his man, Conor Kane, and played a low ball into the box towards Sean Farrell who saw his flicked effort rolls just wide of the far post.
Drogheda United: Paul Skinner; Colm Deasy (Victor Ekanem 89), Kevin Farragher, Ciaran Kelly, Conor Kane; Richie Purdy, Sean Brennan, Jake Hyland (C); Mark Doyle, Chris Lyons, Lee Duffy.
Subs not used: Luca Gratzer (GK), Kealan Dillon, Eoin McPhillips, William Hondermarck, Gareth McCaffrey, Stephen Meaney.
Booked: Sean Brennan (17), Lee Duffy (32), Chris Lyons (63), Mark Doyle (74).
Shelbourne: Dean Delany (C); James Brown, Derek Prendergast, Aidan Collins, Reece McEnteer; Alan Byrne, Gavin Boyne (Jamie Doyle 70), James O’Brien; Adam Evans (Shane Farrell 81), David O’Sullivan, James English.
Subs not used: Lee Steacy (GK), Dave Mulcahy, Dayle Rooney, Cian Kavanagh, Dylan Grimes.
Booked: Alan Byrne (35), Jamie Doyle (70), James English (85).
Referee: David Keeler.
Attendance: 650 (estimate).
Extratime.ie Player of the Match: Kevin Farragher (Drogheda United).