Gerard Grimes reports from United Park
Drogheda United kept the gap to league leaders UCD at two points as they ran out 2-0 winners over Cabinteely at United Park on Friday thanks.
Goals from Chris Lyons and Mark Doyle helped Tim Clancy's Drogs past a Cabinteely side who had inflicted their first defeat of the season at Stradbrook Park in March.
It was Cabinteely who had the first effort of the game as Conor Earley’s cut back found Luke Clucas at the near post but the forward couldn’t find the target as his effort rose over the bar.
Drogheda’s first effort came following a link up between Colm Deasy and Jake Hyland on the right, which saw the ball then played inside to Lyons.
However, Lyons' shot from the edge of the box lacked power making it easy for Stephen McGuinness to save low to his right.
Cabinteely were threatening throughout, especially from set pieces and went close to hitting the front after 11 minutes but Earley headed just wide from a corner.
In what was an end-to-end half at times, Drogheda countered with one of the best moves of the match and, after losing the ball before quickly winning it back, Doyle fired an effort wide.
Drogheda had the best early chance on 21 minutes as Richie Purdy played in Sean Brennan but the midfielder, bearing down on goal, seemingly gave himself too much time to think about what to do and shot straight at McGuinness.
The Boynesiders did take the lead 12 minutes later when Brennan’s corner was met by Luke Farragher and a goalmouth scramble ensued, with the ball eventually put past McGuinness by Lyons.
Cabinteely were almost gifted an equaliser with the last chance of the half as Ciaran Kelly misjudged a high ball, allowing it to bounce over his head.
Luke Clucas picked it up for the visitors 25 yards out, set himself but dragged his effort wide.
Cabinteely made two changes at the break, bringing Kieran ‘Marty’ Waters and Christian Lotefa on for Sean Bregazzi and Dean Casey.
The change had a positive effect on the visitors as they dominated the second half, keeping Drogheda pinned in their own half, and box at times, winning a succession of corners.
One of those corners came ten minutes into the half, with Conor Keeley rising highest and heading the ball goalwards, only for Mark Doyle to clear it off the line and keep his side in front.
Cabinteely had another brilliant chance two minutes later from a free quick played into the box on the ground but Jack Tuite, six yards out, couldn’t get his shot off as he instead looked to control the ball, allowing Skinner to gather.
Drogheda boss Clancy made a change of his own soon after, bringing Gareth McCaffrey on for goalscorer Lyons.
McCaffrey nearly had the perfect instant impact for the Boynesiders as he used his strength to beat two Cabinteely defenders, but couldn’t get his shot off under a challenge from a retreating defender who had forced him out wide.
The ball hung in the air from that challenge before eventually dropping to the feet of Doyle but he was denied by a great save by former Drogheda shotstopper McGuinness.
Cabinteely kept the pressure on though and Skinner had to be equal to Earley’s brilliant free kick from 30 yards, tipping it over the bar for a corner.
McCaffrey, in the lone striker role, was holding the ball well when he received it, as Drogheda looked to keep the ball in a half dominated by their opposition.
With six minutes to play, McCaffrey split Cabinteely’s defence with a through ball to Doyle, who shifted the ball onto his left but was denied by McGuinness.
Drogheda again failed to properly deal with a ball into the box, and an attempted clearance ricocheted off a Cabinteely player, forcing Skinner into a save on his line.
The home side almost found their second with a minute of normal time left to play as McCaffrey again held on to the ball, before laying it back to Purdy.
Purdy played a ball inside to Hyland, who lost it, but it fell to Doyle who got the ball out of his feet before firing over the bar.
Drogheda did find a second goal though, in the second minute of additional time as McCaffrey broke down the right and crossed to the far post to Doyle who made no mistake, firing home from close range to seal the win.
Drogheda United: Paul Skinner; Colm Deasy, Kevin Farragher, Ciaran Kelly, Conor Kane; Luke Gallagher, Richie Purdy; Jake Hyland, Sean Brennan (William Hondermarck 90+2), Mark Doyle; Chris Lyons (Gareth McCaffrey 65).
Subs not used: Luca Gratzer (gk), Lloyd Buckley, Victor Ekanem, Kealan Dillon, Eoin McPhillips.
Booked: Chris Lyons (60), Luke Gallagher (82).
Cabinteely: Stephen McGuinness (C); Karl Byrne, Jack Tuite, Conor Keeley (Sean Fitzpatrick 71), Sean Bregazzi (Kieran ‘Marty’ Waters 46); Jack Watson, Conor Earley, Kevin Knight, Dean Casey (Christian Lotefa 46); Luke Clucas, Keith Dalton.
Unused Subs: Sean Hyland (gk), Eoghan Morgan, Andy O’Reilly.
Booked: Conor Keeley (8), Kevin Knight (37).
Referee: Andrew Mullally.
Attendance: 300 (estimate).
Extratime.ie Player of the Match: Conor Kane (Drogheda United).