League Report: Shelbourne 1 - 1 Drogheda United

Sean Boyd returned for Shelbourne with a goal

Sean Boyd got the equaliser for Shels Credit: Conor Ryan (ETPhotos)

Patrick O'Connor reporting from Tolka Park 

Shelbourne saw their lead at the top of the table cut to the bare minimum of one point after they were held to a one-all draw by Drogheda United in a highly entertaining clash at Tolka Park on Friday night.

The visitors set out to, and succeeded in, frustrating the Reds on their way to gaining a valuable point. Although it does not alter their league position, still second from the bottom, it will give them great confidence that they can pull away from the relegation zone as we edge towards the halfway stage of the season.

Shelbourne, for their part, have now drawn their last three games and have only won once in five outings, so the sound of the pack closing in on them will cause anxiety levels to increase down Richmond Road.

Drogheda set up with a lone striker and a five-man midfield. While Shelbourne had 76% of the possession, they were unable to break through the defensive wall sufficiently often to force a winner.

Will Jarvis had another quiet game on the left wing for Shels, and Sean Gannon, nominally a fullback but playing more as a right-winger, was their main attacking outlet for much of the game.

Sean Boyd started as centre forward and, while he did notch a goal, his fifth of the season, he was generally well marshalled by man of the match, Hayden Cann, in the centre of the Drogheda defence.

Both goals came from set pieces, the first arriving in the third minute courtesy of what looks like a training ground move by the Drogs.

They won a free kick on the right touchline, and, as they did for the winner against Dundalk on the previous Monday night, left-back Evan Weir swung in the free kick and this time Frantz Pierrot rose highest to head the ball past Conor Kearns for a good goal.

Shels went on to dominate the rest of the first half and created a few half-chances, but their build-up play was slow and ponderous at times. They were not helped by numerous stoppages for injuries to Drogheda players, and these breaks in momentum caused a lot of frustration both amongst the home supporters and on the home bench.

It remained one-nil at the break, and Damian Duff did not delay in freshening up his side for the second half, making three changes at halftime.

Two of those changes had the desired effect, with Matty Smith and Evan Caffrey both combining to create Boyd’s equaliser in the 60th minute.

Smith drew a foul while weaving his way towards the Drogheda box. Caffrey swung the ball to the far post and, for once, Boyd had evaded the clutches of Cann and stooped low to head the ball past Andrew Wogan for a deserved equaliser.

Shels continued to press hard for a winner and were certainly the more attack-minded of the two sides. They had a number of chances late on through substitute John Martin, but a combination of poor execution and some solid defending and good goalkeeping meant that there were no further goals.

One-all it finished; Shelbourne remains league leaders but only just, while Drogheda draw themselves much closer to a cluster of teams in the lower half of the league table.

Shelbourne: Conor Kearns; Patrick Barrett, Sean Gannon, Gavin Molloy, Tyreke Wilson (Kameron Ledwidge 46); Mark Coyle  (John Martin 66), Shane Farrell (Matthew Smith 46), William Jarvis, Jonathan Lunney (Evan Caffrey 46); Sean Boyd, Liam Burt (Dean Williams 77).
Subs not used: Lorcan Healy, Lewis Temple, Jad Hakiki.
Booked: Damien Duff (64), Sean Gannon (75), Matthew Smith (80).
Sent off: None.

Drogheda United: Andrew Wogan; Hayden Cann, Luke Heeney (Jack Keaney 46), Andrew Quinn (David Webster 66), Evan Weir; Ryan Brennan, Warren Davis (Conor Kane 52), Adam Foley (Zishim Bawa 54), Oisin Gallagher, Darragh Markey; Frantz Pierrot.
Subs not used: Finn Moore, Matthew O’Brien, Emre Topcu, James Byrne, Killian Cailloce.
Booked: Darragh Markey (45), Luke Heeney (45), David Webster (83), Oisin Gallagher (90).
Sent off: None.

Referee: Gavin Colfer
Attendance: 3,596
extratime.com Player of the Match:Hayden Cann ( Drogheda Utd)