By Robert O’Reilly
Drogheda United became the first side to take points off Limerick this season as they drew 2-2 in an action packed second-half at the Markets Field.
Limerick took the lead on the hour mark through Paudie O’Connor but Drogheda swung the momentum in their favour through goals from Sam O’Connor and Aaron Ashe only for Ross Mann’s stoppage time equaliser preserved the Blues’ unbeaten start.
Drogheda United manager Pete Mahon made four changes from the dour draw with Cabinteely last Sunday as Sean Brennan, Sean Thornton, Marc Griffin and Derek Doyle were all restored to the starting XI.
Despite the 14 point gap between the sides, Drogheda started in the ascendancy and created several chances early on to break the deadlock with Marc Griffin testing Tommy Holland and the keeper was equal to Ashe’s follow-up.
United came close again from the resulting corner but Niall Cooney’s header was straight at Holland with Limerick fortunate to still be on level terms.
The league leaders then replied with chances of their own as Lee Lynch shot straight at Stephen McGuinness from 20 yards with Sean Russell firing over the bar moments later.
With little other goalmouth action in the first-half, Limerick were a different side after the break with leading scorer John O’Flynn being denied by McGuinness and then Paul O’Conor failed to hit the target from the edge of the box.
The Shannonsiders hit the front with an hour played as Stephen Kenny’s corner was met by the head of Robbie Williams with Paudie O’Connor getting the final touch as the ball squeezed over the line.
Drogheda responded well to going behind and they created a wonderful opportunity to draw level as Ashe was played through on goal but he failed to test Holland in goal.
United’s attacking approach was eventually rewarded on 75 minutes as Sean Thornton’s deep free-kick into the penalty area was powerfully headed goalwards by Sam O’Connor with the impressive Holland only managing to parry the ball over the line.
The visitors completed the turnaround in the 89th minute as a long free-kick was knocked into the path of Ashe who made no mistake in giving the Boynesiders an unlikely lead.
Limerick were not to be denied though as deep into stoppage time substitute Mann connected with Stephen Kenny’s cross to ensure both sides left with a share of the spoils in a breathtaking second-half.
Drogheda remain in second place ahead of the mid-season break and they hold a two point lead over third placed UCD who they will face next at United Park in a fortnight’s time.
Shaun Kelly (Ross Mann 90)
Sean Brennan (Ken Costello 62)
Marc Griffin (Eoin Kirwan 79)
Paudie O’Connor 60’
Ross Mann 90’
Sam O’Connor 75’
Aaron Ashe 89’