Drogheda United extended their winning streak to five games as Gavin Brennan scored a dramatic winner on 93 minutes against ten-man Shelbourne. It appeared as though Brennan had attempted a cross, but the ball came off his left foot and just looped over Chris Bennion and bounced in off the foot of the far post as Shels hearts were broken.
Drogheda United opened the scoring on 12 minutes and it was apt that winger Cathal Brady was the scorer, a contentious decision to award Drogheda United a free saw Declan O’Brien fire a screamer from 35 yards out right at Chris Bennion, but the former Dundalk keeper failed to hold the ball and it bounced into the path of Brady who rifled it home.
Shels levelled on 74 minutes through second half sub Conan Byrne, a great move which saw Dawson, Fitzgerald and Gorman link up with the latter laying off to Byrne who struck from 30 yards out to hit the top left hand corner. That goal came very much against the run of play. But they couldn’t hold onto that lead.
Referee Damien Hancock made no friends tonight as he brandished no less than nine cards with eight yellows and a red. Stephen Paisley was dismissed with five minutes remaining as he brought down Declan O'Brien on the edge of the box and it was deemed a professional foul and Paisley had to walk. However consistency will be another word bandied about as Drogheda were lucky not to be reduced to ten as an already booked Alan Byrne blatantly handled earlier in the half and Hancock just awarded a free.
The visitors started off the brighter with Cathal Brady terrorising Lorcan Fitzgerald down the right wing. Brady made several darting runs putting the home defence on their toes. Chris Bennion never looked comfortable in the Shels goal and moments after conceding a corner whipped in with pace saw the experienced shot stopper flap at it.
Drogheda were playing a high defence with Alan McNally and Derek Prendergast shepherding the strike partnership of Hughes and Gorman.
Drogheda could have opened the scoring on seven minutes, O’Brien controlled a clearance from the back and laid the ball off to Brady who was racing through the midfield and the winger made for the corner, beating Fitzgerald again, before whipping the ball into Hynes who failed to control the header.
Shels had their chances though, the best coming just before the break when Alan Byrne was on the line to deny Stephen Paisley who had Sava beaten with his goal bound header.
A frantic start to the second half saw both sides have chances within ten minutes to score. The Boynesiders started the better then Declan O’Brien, two minutes after the restart, sent in a diagonal shot which was almost diverted in by the onrushing Peter Hynes. This was quickly followed up by a Philly Hand free kick 30 yards out which had Bennion beaten but came back off the cross bar.
Shels seemed to spark into life as some fluid passing in midfield allowed David Cassidy break free and the winger beat Hand to send in a low ball which was met by the Kevin Dawson who fired a shot right at Sava and the keeper could only parry the ball over the goal. From the subsequent corner a scramble to clear saw Hughes turn and volley from the edge of the box but the effort drifted wide.
But it was end-to-end stuff after that with neither side really carving out a chance, the best of the efforts did fall to the home side when on 78 minutes Philly Hughes sent a ball across the six yard area and Conan Byrne almost connected with it to divert it past Sava.
Alan Mathews was not a happy man after the game and rightfully so, his side had their chances but failed to take them and were made to pay. Mick Cooke appeared more relaxed as Drogheda slowly open a gap to third.
Shelbourne: Chris Bennion, Gareth Mathews, Stephen Paisley, Stephen Hurley, Lorcan Fitzgerald, Paddy Kavanagh (Conan Byrne 46), Kevin Dawson, John Sullivan (Brian Shortall 61), David Cassidy, Philip Gorman (Andy Boyle 88), Philip Hughes.
Subs not used: Dean Delaney, Brendan McGill, Sean Byrne, Paul Byrne.
Bookings: Hurley (20), Cassidy (32), Dawson (51), Paisley (66).
Sent Off: Paisley (85).
Drogheda United: Gabriel Sava, Philip Hand, Derek Prendergast, Alan McNally, Conor McMahon, Cathal Brady (Sean Brennan 76), Paul Crowley, Alan Byrne (Eric Foley 80), Gavin Brennan, Declan O’Brien, Peter Hynes.
Subs not used: Michael Schlingermann, Johnny Breen, Stephen Quigley, Jason Marks, Tiarnan Mulvenna.
Bookings: A Byrne (19), Crowley (28), G Brennan (89).
Referee: Damien Hancock.
Man of the match: Cathal Brady (Drogheda).