Osam breaks Shelbourne hearts

 

St Patrick's Athletic's inner resolve proved the greater as they once again threw down the gauntlet to Cork City at the top of the Premier Division table.

This win was clutched from the jaws of a draw as Paul Osam led by example, having taken the captain's armband from the substituted Eddie Gormley, to head a last minute winner from Martin Russell's free-kick.

It was cruel on Shelbourne, the better side for good spells, who worked very hard to draw level on 84 minutes through Tony Sheridan.

As trials by television go, both sides did justice to themselves and the National League in dreadful conditions to serve up a compelling, if never thrilling, match.

The old Liverpool adage of winning when you're not playing well being an acid test of champions held true for St Patrick's, who ended their sticky spell of three straight draws to beat a resurgent Shelbourne who really only had themselves to blame for this defeat.

They all but gifted St Patrick's the lead goal and never really provided the necessary cutting edge up front to put their superiority on the scoresheet.

St Patrick's win now puts the pressure right back on Cork City, who lead only by goal difference ahead of their game at home to Sligo Rovers tomorrow.

It took time for both sides to quite literally come to grips with the sticky pitch, but when they did the game flowed fitfully from end to end.

St Patrick's lead, when it came on 37 minutes, rocked Shelbourne back on their heels. Dermot Keely's team had been marginally the better side, but how they defended a dubiously awarded freekick for the goal would have had their manager cringing on the bench.

Tony McCarthy was penalised as Molloy backed into him on the stand side. The St Patrick's striker dummied to take the free but ran on into space as Martin Russell quickly played the ball through to him with the Shelbourne defence still not tuned in.

Molloy was now in on goal and calmly shot low past Alan Gough.

Having been slightly the more composed side, Shelbourne were clearly shaken by the goal and they could have been 3-0 down at the break.

Owen Heary initially rescued his side when he harried Russell to give away a corner after Declan Geoghegan's dreadful clearance went straight to Molloy who appeared to have played Russell in.

Gough then had to stretch fully to tip over and give away another corner when Molloy got in a looping header from another accurate Russell free-kick.

The half-time talk clearly didn't sort out Shelbourne's defensive dizzyness as Russell once again caught them out within two minutes of the restart.

This time he picked out Ian Gilzean's diagonal run across the face of the Shelbourne goal. However, Gilzean stood on the ball, inadvertently setting up Molloy who rushed his shot which flew over.

Shelbourne gradually settled to press St Patrick's hard in the final half-hour.

Stephen Geoghegan thought he had equalised on 59 minutes only for Wood to somehow claw his header onto a post after Sheridan had cleverly set him up from Declan Geoghegan's cross.

Shelbourne finally got their reward on 84 minutes when Dessie Baker's cross found Sheridan. Wood appeared to slip as he fumbled the save from Sheridan's header and the striker followed up to force the ball home.

But it was all in vain as, minutes later, more suspect defending by Shelbourne allowed Osam the space to glance a header from Russell's inswinging free-kick past Gough for the unlikely winner.

ST PATRICK'S ATHLETIC: Wood; McGuinness, Lynch, Hawkins; Croly, Gormley, Osam, Russell, Doyle; Molloy, Gilzean. Sub: Campbell for Gormley (69 mins.).

SHELBOURNE: Gough; Heary, Scully, McCarthy, D Geoghegan; D Baker, Fenlon, Doolin, R Baker; S Geoghegan, Sheridan.

Referee: H Byrne (Dublin).