Drogheda United will take a two goal advantage into Friday’s second leg of the First Division promotion playoff after they ran out deserved 2-0 winners over Cobh Ramblers at St Colman’s Park.
A rousing second half performance from the Drogs was capped off by two goals in as many minutes from Marc Griffin and Gareth McCaffrey as they brought Cobh’s five match winning run to an end.
Drogheda United manager Pete Mahon named an unchanged side from the one that defeated UCD 2-1 last week as Adam Wixted and McCaffrey started either side of Griffin in a three man attack.
In front of a crowd of over 2,000, it was the hosts who started the brighter and they worked the ball in behind for forward Rob Lehane but the former Cork man was off target with his attempted lob.
Drogheda enjoyed plenty of possession in the early exchanges but it took until the half hour mark before they threatened as Griffin’s strike inside the box was blocked before Richie Purdy sent the rebound wide.
United almost broke the deadlock on the stroke half-time when the ball was worked down the right to Wixted who cut inside before stinging the palms of Paul Hunt with a low drive.
The Boynesiders dominated midfield after the break and they took the lead with an hour played as Purdy’s delivery to the backpost was met by Griffin who headed the ball back across goal into the far corner, his second in as many games.
With momentum in their favour, the Drogs pushed forward for a second and it came in stunning fashion. A free kick 25 yards out was rolled to McCaffrey who produced a sensational strike that flew past the helpless Hunt for his fifth goal in nine appearances since joining on loan from Shamrock Rovers.
There was no caution to Drogheda’s play as they went in search of a third with Griffin denied his second of the game by the recovering Charlie Fleming who cleared off the line with the keeper beaten.
Cobh applied some pressure late on as they desperately tried to half the deficit and they were unlucky to see Craig Donnellan’s stoppage time strike clip the crossbar before going out of play.
A fantastic result for the Drogs though they will know that the tie is far from over with another massive match to come at United Park this Friday.
Eoin McGreevy (Conor Ellis 69)
Stephen Christopher (Matthew Whelan 69)
Rob Lehane (Anthony O’Donnell 80)
Jake Hyland (John McKeown 85)
Marc Griffin (Derek doyle 90)
Gareth McCaffrey (Aaron Ashe 76)