Goals from Gareth McCaffrey and Richie Purdy saw Drogheda United move to the top of the First Division with a 2-1 victory over ten-man Finn Harps.
It was Harps who started on the front foot as Ciaran O’Connor picked the ball up on the left, looked to play a low ball across the box but saw it cut out by Conor Kane.
Next, Paddy McCourt delivered a free kick into the box which Drogheda managed to deal with at the second attempt before playing the ball upfield to Stephen Meaney.
Meaney got his head up kick, looking to set strike partner Chris Lyons in on goal but the forward couldn’t latch on to the ball.
The first shot of the game came on seven minutes as Farragher’s ball up the pitch was chested to Lyons by Meaney. Lyons opened his body and shot but the effort was always curling wide.
Harps had a penalty appeal turned down on thirteen minutes as Ciaran O’Connor broke through again on the left and as he shot, was challenged by Mark Doyle.
O’Connor went down under the challenge, but referee Rob Harvey waved away his appeals for a spot kick.
Drogheda were forced into making a change on 17 minutes as Chris Lyons was replaced by McCaffrey – who would score Drogheda’s opener just seven minutes later.
Twenty-three minutes in, Hyland played a through ball towards his two forwards, Meaney and McCaffrey. McCaffrey gathered, rounding Gallagher in goal but his effort hit the post.
However the referee then pointed to the spot as the Keith Cowan was adjudged to have handled deliberately after the ball hit the woodwork.
Cowan was sent off and McCaffrey stepped up and sent Gallagher the wrong way from the spot to give the Boynesiders the lead.
Drogheda doubled their lead eight minutes later as Skinner collected a corner and looked to play a long ball upfield to Rossiter.
Mark Coyle got his head to the ball, but Purdy was there to pick up the second ball and drove into the box before firing past Gallagher.
Purdy almost scored a second five minutes before the break but his free took a deflection off the Harps wall, sending it narrowly wide and out for a corner.
Harps should have got a goal back just before the break though as Ciaran O’Connor’s deflected strike found his brother Michael at the back post, but he skied his effort as he met the ball on the stretch.
The second half was cagier than the first and the half began with concern as Ciaran O’Connor collided with the advertising boards behind the goal under the challenge of a Drogheda player.
However, he managed to get up and continue, to the relief of those in United Park, including Ollie Horgan, who had run across the pitch to his injured player.
Drogheda went close to getting a third on 56 minutes as man of the match Conor Kane broke down the left before playing a ball into the six-yard box, aimed for McCaffrey, but he was just beaten to it by a Harps defender.
The resultant corner saw another chance for Drogheda as Ciaran Kelly, up from central defence, connected with the cross, forcing Ciaran Gallagher into making a save low to his right.
Harps were next to attack as a good passing move saw the ball played to substitute Adam Duffy. His first touch saw him turn his man, find space but his effort took a deflection which sent it narrowly wide.
Drogheda had another massive chance on the hour mark as Kane again turned and beat his man before playing a low in swinging ball into the box.
The ball looked to have landed at the feet of Hyland, but the Drogheda captain missed the ball which in turn seemed to put off Meaney who then himself missed the ball, and the chance was gone.
The home side were awarded a free kick five minutes later after Coyle’s foul on Kane and Purdy again stepped up to take, this time looking to confuse Gallagher by shooting despite lining up as though he was going to cross the ball.
He shot but the Harps goalkeeper was equal to it, saving comfortably at his near post.
Drogheda’s pressure continued as Rossiter had a shot blocked but picked up the second ball and played a ball to the back post to McCaffrey.
McCaffrey let the ball run, getting it onto his left before shooting across goal but his effort was blocked by one of several Harps defenders sliding in to block the ball.
Harps would have a few chances before the end and the first came as they worked the ball to Coyle at the back post.
The midfielder managed to get his outstretched right foot to the ball but there was no direction or power on the effort and it rolled to Skinner.
A minute later, Harps had a great chance to get themselves back in the game as Adam Duffy played the ball inside to Michael O’Connor.
O’Connor took the ball around Skinner, but his touch was too heavy causing him to cut back onto his right to shoot, allowing Skinner the time to get back to his feet and block the effort.
Harps would get a consolation goal back though, in the final minute of the game, as a corner on the right was played to the back post, it dropped to substitute Mark Hannon who scrambled the ball home in a crowded Drogheda penalty area.
Drogheda United: Paul Skinner; Luke Gallagher, Kevin Farragher, Ciaran Kelly; Mark Doyle, Jake Hyland (C), Richie Purdy (Kealan Dillon 76), Luke Rossiter, Conor Kane; Chris Lyons (Gareth McCaffrey 17), Stephen Meaney.
Unused Subs: Luka Gratzer (GK), Sean Brennan, Lloyd Buckley, James Carroll, Victor Ekanem.
Booked: TBC (48).
Finn Harps: Ciaran Gallagher; Aidan Friel, Keith Cowan (C), Sam Todd, Lee Toland; Eric Whelan (Adam Duffy 46), Mark Timlin, Mark Coyle, Paddy McCourt (Mark Hannon 70), Ciaran O’Connor (John O’Flynn 79); Michael O’Connor.
Unused Subs: Peter Burke (GK), Gareth Doherty, Ryan Finn, Tommy McBride.
Booked: Paddy McCourt (23), Lee Toland (39), Michael O’Connor (53), Mark Coyle (64), Ciaran O’Connor (77).
Red Card: Keith Cowan (23).
Referee: Robert Harvey.
Attendance: 550 (estimate).
Extratime.ie Player of the Match: Conor Kane (Drogheda United).