Gerard Grimes reports from United Park
Second-half goals from Gareth McCaffrey and Lee Duffy saw Drogheda United return to top of the First Division with a 2-0 win over UCD at United Park on Friday night.
It was Drogheda who had the first chance of the game as Luke Gallagher, playing at right-back, switched the ball out to the left.
Conor Kane picked it up on halfway and surged off, breezing past several UCD players but his eventual effort took a deflection and was easy for Conor Kearns to save.
UCD’s first chance of the game came on 12 minutes as they worked the ball to Paul Doyle on the left who played a low ball across the Drogheda box.
The ball was aimed for Kevin Coffey and it would have fell to the feet of the UCD man at the back post had Kane not been there to make a vital interception.
Next came the moment of the first half as Sean Brennan played a short pass to Purdy who let fly, aiming for the top corner, from 35 yards.
He was only denied a goal of the season contender by a superb fingertip save from Kearns.
Drogheda had another chance three minutes later as Gallagher’s corner was played onto captain Jake Hyland, who took a touch and shot but it hit the leg of a UCD defender and fell into the arms of Kearns.
UCD had the ball in the back of the net on 23 minutes as Georgie Kelly’s first chance from inside the box was blocked.
The ball fell back to him and he played it to Daire O’Connor who slotted past Skinner only for the goal to be disallowed for offside.
The students should have it the front on 27 minutes as Paul Doyle beat Hyland, forced him off the ball and cut it back to Kelly.
He took a touch but hit his effort straight at Paul Skinner when he would have found the net had he hit it either side of the goalkeeper.
Drogheda went close from a corner on the stroke of halftime as Brennan’s delivery into the six-yard box took a touch before hitting the back of Gareth McCaffrey and rising over Kearns goal.
It was UCD who started the second half the better as straight away Kelly got free on the left but his low effort was saved by Skinner.
Jason McClelland was next for UCD as the students worked the ball to him in midfield, he found space but like Kelly, his low strike was gathered by Skinner.
It was Drogheda who opened the scoring on 51 minutes though as Duffy broke down the right before playing the ball inside to Gallagher who made the supporting run from right back.
Gallagher got his head up and played a ball inside to McCaffrey who fired past Conor Kearns to score his fourth goal in three games and give Drogheda the lead.
UCD looked to hit back straight away and again it was McClelland, this time on the left wing, but his effort lacked power and Skinner gathered.
Drogheda doubled their lead on 67 minutes as Brennan played a through into the path of Duffy, who took a touch, set himself and fired low under Kearns to double the lead for the Boynesiders.
UCD did try to look for a way back into the game as McLelland again went close and Kelly was again denied by Skinner but Drogheda saw out the win to movef back to the top of the First Division.
Drogheda United: Paul Skinner; Luke Gallagher, Kevin Farragher, Ciaran Kelly, Conor Kane; Richie Purdy, Sean Brennan (Stephen Meaney 81); Mark Doyle, Jake Hyland (C), Lee Duffy (Kealan Dillon 90+3); Gareth McCaffrey.
Unused Subs: Luka Gratzer (GK), Victor Ekanem, Chris Lyons, Sean Trimble, Eoin McPhillips.
Booked: Jake Hyland (65), Lee Duffy (88).
UCD: Conor Kearns; Dan Tobin, Josh Collins, Paul Doyle, Liam Scales; Kevin Coffey (Greg Sloggett 64), Gary O'Neill (C), Daire O'Connor; Jason McLelland, Georgie Kelly, Timmy Molloy (Ben Hanrahan 81).
Unused Subs: Carl Williams (GK), Darragh Corcoran, Mark Dignam, Conor Crowley, Yoyo Mahdy.
Booked: Liam Scales (85).
Referee: Marc Lynch.
Attendance: 450 (estimate).
Extratime.ie Player of the Match: Sean Brennan (Drogheda United).