Shelbourne’s Sean Boyd celebrates scoring their first goal with Matty Smith. Ciaran Culligan/INPHO
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Shelbourne stay top of table as Drogheda United earn draw at Tolka Park

A Sean Boyd equaliser salvaged a point for Shelbourne for the second time in five days.

Shelbourne 1

Drogheda United 1

Paul Buttner reports from Tolka Park 

 to keep Damien Duff’s side top of the table.

Conceding to an early Frantz Pierrot header, Shels were frustrated for large parts of the evening by a tenacious Drogheda at Tolka Park.

But despite it now being just one win in nine games, Drumcondra’s Reds remain at the summit, if by just one point from Derry City.

Four points in the week marks a welcome return for Kevin Doherty’s Drogheda who move six points clear of Louth neighbours Dundalk at the foot of the table.

Rewarded for his superbly-taken late leveller at Derry City on Monday, Boyd came in for his fifth start of the season to lead Shels’ attack in one of three changes.

Skipper Gary Deegan, who had played every minute this season, was Drogheda’s big loss as he served a suspension.

In his stead, Oisin Gallagher helped anchor Drogheda’s midfield alongside captain for the night, Ryan Brennan.

But it was Shels’ skipper Mark Coyle who was penalised for a foul on Drogheda right-back Luke Heeney that sparked the game immediately to life on three minutes.

gavin-molloy-and-frantz-pierrot Shelbourne’s Gavin Molloy and Frantz Pierrot of Drogheda. Ciaran Culligan / INPHO Ciaran Culligan / INPHO / INPHO

Evan Weir arced over an inviting free kick from the right which was met by Pierrot who powered a header to the top corner despite Conor Kearns getting a hand to it. It was the Haitian international’s second goal of the week and fourth of the season.

Shels looked for an instant response and almost got it within a minute. Left winger Will Jarvis cut in to get the ball onto his right foot to curl a shot goal-ward. Andrew Wogan, in for the suspended Jethren Barr, sent off in Monday’s derby win over Dundalk, batted the effort away.

Drogheda survived again on 12 minutes from Tyreke Wilson’s free kick into their area. Boyd got on the end of it, but unlike at Derry on Monday, he toed this opportunity over the top.

Despite being under the cosh, Drogheda might have capitalised on a mistake by Kearns at the other on the half hour.

The Shels keeper’s miscued clearance was straight to Warren Davis. A relieved Kearns was grateful that the winger’s feeble attempt came directly back into his arms.

Frustrated Shels had appeals for a penalty rightly turned down on 37 minutes when Hayden Cann made a last-ditch tackle to take the ball off the toe of Liam Burt.

Then in the eighth minute of added time, Wogan appeared to get a finger to a Jarvis shot to tip it over the bar but no corner was given.

Far from happy with his side’s first half showing, Duff rang the changes at the break bringing on Kameron Ledwidge, Matty Smith and Evan Caffrey as Farrell, Wilson and JJ Lunney were hooked.

Jarvis headed over while the impressive Cann, now partnered by sub Jack Keaney, made a brave block to a stinging drive from Caffrey.

But the pressure finally told on the visitors’ goal on the hour.

Smith was fouled by Darragh Markey. Caffrey whipped the free kick to the far post where Boyd lost his marker Weir to score with a stooping header.

Markey almost made amends for conceding that free kick seven minutes later, bringing the save of the game from Kearns with a low drive.

In a frantic finish, which included an additional seven minutes, Wogan denied Dean Willians with his feet before the substitute shot over while Boyd slod headed off target as Shelbourne couldn’t find a winner.

Shelbourne: Kearns; Gannon, Barrett, Molloy, Wilson (Ledwidge, h-t); Coyle (Martin, 66), Lunney (Caffrey, h-t); Farrell (Smith, h-t), Burt (Williams, 77), Jarvis; Boyd.

Drogheda United: Wogan; Heeney (Keaney, h-t), Quinn (Webster, 67), Cann, Weir; Brennan, Gallagher; Foley (Bawa, 54), Markey, Davis (Kane, 53); Pierrot.

Referee: Gavin Colfer (Wicklow). 

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