By Robert O’Reilly
Drogheda United have opened up a seven-point gap between themselves and Cobh Ramblers after they defeated Cabinteely 1-0 at United Park.
Aaron Ashe was the match winner once again for the Drogs as his third goal in as many games, and eight of the season, separated the sides in a largely uneventful contest.
Drogheda United manager Pete Mahon named an unchanged side from the one that won 2-0 away to Shelbourne last week with new loan signing Richard Purdy settling for a place on the bench.
A bright start from the hosts saw Colm Deasy pick out Sean Brennan down the right and his cross found Gareth McCaffrey in the area only for a superb block from Cabinteely defender Adam Maher to deny him.
Cabinteely settled into the game and they created two decent chances around the quarter hour mark as Mark Slater fired over under pressure from Stephen Dunne at the back post and then Shane Boyle pulled a strike wide from the edge of the box.
In a half of few chances, Drogheda created the best opening shortly before the break as Brennan’s corner from the right was met powerfully by the head of Luke Gallagher but the defender was denied by a fantastic point blank save from Cabinteely keeper Michael Kelly.
A scrappy start to the second period resulted in both sides losing possession at will with Cabo winning a free kick in a dangerous position following a foul by Sean Thornton though Stephen McGuinnes was equal to Ben Hanrahan’s strike.
A double substitution for the hosts on the hour mark saw the introduction of new signings John McKeown and Purdy and the switch paid dividends as United broke the deadlock five minutes later. The two former Cabinteely midfielders combined with McKeown drilling the ball into the feet of Marc Griffin who turned his marker before playing a delightful slide rule ball for Ashe who made no mistake in finding the bottom corner.
A succession of corner kicks for the visitors late on created a nervous tension around the ground but United held on for a seventh home win from ten games this season.
The three points consolidates Drogheda’s grip on second place in the league as they gear up for a top of the table clash at home to Limerick next Friday.
Sean Thornton (John McKeown 61)
Jake Hyland (Richard Purdy 61)
Gareth McCaffrey (Derek Doyle 88)
Adam Maher (Aji Sule 78)
Shane Boyle (Gavin Howard 75)
Mark Slater (Ollie Hamzat 86)