by Robert O'Reilly
Drogheda United have moved up to seventh in the table after they defeated Limerick 2-1 in the first match at the Markets Field stadium.
Drogs captain Mick Daly scored the first goal at the new ground before Limerick drew level early in the second half through Paul O’Conor but United weren’t to be denied a vital victory as Lee Duffy scored the winner on 55 minutes.
There were two changes for the away side from the team that defeated Cabinteely 3-1 in the FAI Cup last week as both Micheál Schlingermann and Daly were recalled to the starting eleven in place of Dylan Connolly and Sam McGowan.
The game had yet to develop into a pattern by the time that Drogheda had taken the lead with Daly heading in off the inside of the post from Sean Thornton’s free kick, the defender’s second goal of the season.
Limerick, perhaps nervous in their new surroundings, eventually got a foothold in proceedings though Shane Duggan’s ambitious strike from 25 yards didn’t trouble Micheál Schlingermann in goal.
Dean Clarke, playing slightly out of position for the hosts on the left wing, was a constant threat to the Drogheda defence and he was unfortunate to see his curling effort go wide having cut inside Daly.
The former UCD man was on the ball again on 27 minutes as he teed up Sean Russell but Schlingermann was equal to his effort from the edge of the box.
Drogheda were under the cosh as half time approached but they did manage to create another opportunity to double their lead as Duffy’s left foot strike was well held by Tommy O’Donnell.
The hosts made a lightning quick start to the second half as they equalised three minutes after the break when Shane Tracy’s cross from the left was headed home unmarked by former Drogheda man O’Conor.
United, to their credit, immediately regained the ascendancy in the game and they went back in front seven minutes later as Duffy’s low strike from 20 yards found the bottom corner via the inside of the post, a goal which makes the former Shelbourne striker Drogheda’s leading goalscorer this season with four.
Drogheda were unfortunate not to double their lead on 70 minutes when substitute Tiarnan Mulvenna got his shot away from 15 yards but O’Donnell once again frustrated the visitors.
Despite appearing comfortable for long stages of the game, Drogheda had to withstand a late barrage to secure their second away win of the season.
Firstly, Clarke’s close range header brought out a fantastic save from Schlingermann and the keeper was quick off his line in stoppage time to cleanly deny the striker once again despite penalty appeals from the home crowd.
The result marks the first time that Drogheda have secured three successive wins this season and they will be aiming to make it four in a row next Friday when they host Derry City in the final game before the midseason break.
Sean Russell (Ross Mann 87)
Darragh Rainsford (Vinny Faherty 72)
Kieran Hanlon (Ian Turner 72)
Mark Hughes (Stephen Maher 68)
Jason Marks (Cathal Brady 78)
Lee Duffy (Tiarnan Mulvenna 57)
Paul O’Conor 48
Mick Daly 12
Lee Duffy 55