Drogheda United will play Finn Harps in the next round of the First Division Play-Offs after they overcame a 1-0 first leg deficit to defeat nine-man Shelbourne on penalties at a raucous Tolka Park on Monday night.
Despite their playoff dream coming to an end, Shelbourne can be proud of their spirited performance that saw them play over 85-minutes with just nine men, before Mark Doyle’s penalty decided the tie.
Reece McEnteer endured a tumultuous start to the game as he committed three fouls in as many minutes, resulting in two yellow cards. Shels were down a man with just ten minutes on the clock.
Drogheda almost took advantage just minutes later when Jake Hyland battled hard inside the box to hold onto the ball and find Chris Lyons in the box. He managed to get a shot away under intense pressure but it flew narrowly over the bar.
The home side had a great chance of their own moments later when Lorcan Fitzgerald’s magical left peg swung an excellent ball into the box that just evaded a Shels touch and finished wide of the post for a corner.
Shels may have been down to ten men but they were stil creating opportunities and delightful feet from Paddy Kavanagh had the home crowd on their feet as he sauntered past two players to play in Greg Moorhouse. James English desperately sprinted towards the back post hoping his teammate could find him but a Drogs defender was on hand to block the low cross.
It was the visitors who took the lead, however, when Chris Lyons managed to dig out a cross from the byline on the right. The ball dropped nicely to the feet of Sean Brennan who controlled well before firing into the top corner in the 33th minute.
Shelbourne were dealt a hammer blow three minutes later when James English became the second man sent off after a reckless lunge on Jake Hyland.
Drogs made it 2-0 in the 62nd minute through a fine solo effort from Lyons as he jinked his way past several Shels men before firing home from the centre of the box. Shels desperately tried to block his attempt before it hit the back of the net but their efforts were in vain.
It was now a very tall order but Shelbourne levelled the tie on aggregate when Karl Moore raced down the right before cutting inside onto his left foot and delivering an exquisite in-swinging cross that evaded the outward dive of Paul Skinner and nestled into the back of the net via the foot of Adam Evans.
With the clock ticking towards the 100th minute, Drogheda forged a chance to win it when Doyle worked his way into a good position 12-yards from goal and got a strike away. His effort looked to be creeping into the bottom corner, only for John Ross Wilson to somehow keep it out with a last ditch lunge near the post.
An almost identical attack to the one that saw Shels score, almost saw them snatch the win four minutes from spot-kicks. Moore once again delivered a fine ball into the box that evaded the keeper. However, this time Evans could only head narrowly wide.
Penalties it was, and when Lyons, Brennan, Luke Gallagher and Doyle found the net, Drogheda progressed