St. Patrick’s Athletic scored twice in the final two minutes to snatch all three points against Drogheda United in a five-goal thriller at United Park.
Conan Byrne gave the Dubliners the lead early on but goals in either half from Gavan Holohan and Peter McGlynn put the hosts in front before a Daire Doyle own goal and a last gasp strike from Christy Fagan sealed a remarkable turnaround.
Having qualified for the FAI Cup Final at the weekend, the Saints started with a purpose and they hit the front on nine minutes as Byrne cut in from the right side to curl an unstoppable shot into the top corner of the goal.
Byrne and Keith Fahey went close to extending the visitor’s advantage but it wasn’t long before Drogheda had their first effort on target as bright approach play from Carl Walshe presented Holohan with a chance but his drive was pushed away by Brendan Clarke.
Despite being second best for most of the half, United went into the break level as Gary O’Neill expertly controlled a long ball to bring Holohan into play and the midfielder drove into the box before cutting inside the Pat’s defence to fire into the bottom corner.
The home side started the second half with renewed optimism as they sought a surprise lead when O’Neill dropped deep again to pick out the run of Shane Grimes though the Drogheda captain sent his shot narrowly wide of the far post.
The Saints continued push forward in search of the lead though they failed to test Schlingermann as Alan McNally blocked Fahey’s close range effort and then Ciaran McGuigan denied Christy Fagan with a last ditch challenge.
Drogheda completed the surprise turnaround with 19 minutes left to play as O’Neill regained possession from a St Pat’s kick out and he passed to McGlynn who feinted past Bolger before sending a thunderous shot in off the underside of the bar.
It appeared as though the hosts would hold on for a sizeable scalp but the tide of events changed in the final minute of regulation time as Doyle diverted Fagan’s cross past Schlingermann.
The Premier Division’s joint leading goal scorer was to have the final say though as Forrester released the former Manchester United player and he slotted the ball into the bottom corner to condemn Drogheda to their 15th defeat in the league this season.
Drogheda United: Micheál Schlingermann; Daire Doyle, Alan McNally, Ciaran McGuigan, Shane Grimes; Peter McGlynn, Gavan Holohan, Mick Daly (Adam Wixted 24), Stephen Maher (Garreth Brady 86), Carl Walshe; Gary O’Neill (Declan O’Brien 84).
Subs not used: Dylan Connolly, Paul Crowley, Paul Andrews, Roy Kierans.
St Patrick’s Athletic: Brendan Clarke; Conor McCormack, Kenny Browne, Sean Hoare, Ian Bermingham; Keith Fahey, Greg Bolger, Killian Brennan (Peter Durrad 82); Conan Byrne (Derek Foran 82), Christy Fagan, Aaron Greene (Chris Forrester 52).
Subs not used: Pat Jennings, Lorcan Fitzgerald, Jack Bayly. Ger O’Brien.
Booked: Bolger (56)
Referee: Jim McKell
Attendance: 700 (estimate)
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Gary O’Neill (Drogheda United)