Maher’s winner helps St Pat’s defeat Shels to maintain their grip at the top of the Premier Division table
First-half goal decides the spoils at Richmond Park
St Patrick’s Ath 1 Shelbourne 0
St Pat’s remain top of the Airtricity Premier Division table thanks to Stephen Maher’s first -half goal at Richmond Park but the Inchicore side missed several chances to increase their lead and were made to work hard by Shelbourne for the points.
Having left the Dublin 8 venue with nothing, Shelbourne now find themselves in serious danger of relegation and will have to work harder during the run-in to avoid that fate.
Pat’s had the first chance of this feisty match on three minutes when Killian Brennan picked out Anto Flood on the left of the box and he in turn fed Chris Forrester but Shels goalkeeper Niall Burdon blocked Forrester’s shot.
Pat’s appealed for a penalty on 11 minutes when Brennan tumbled over in the box under the challenge of Stephen Hurley but referee Paul McLaughlin waved the appeals away.
Shels had found it hard to get out of their own half from the beginning of the match and their first effort close to the target came on 23 minutes when Glenn Cronin fired inches wide from 25 yards after Pat’s failed to clear Sean Brennan’s corner.
A Killian Brennan free kick at the other end on 26 minutes took a rebound back out to Stephen Maher who unleashed a low pile-driver but Hurley’s head deflected the ball away.
St Pat’s pushed on and deservedly took the lead on 39 minutes when Maher finished perfectly from 20 yards.
Burdon came off his line to make a block as Conan Byrne advanced past Derek Doyle following a cross from Greg Bolger, but the ball fell for Maher who made no mistake to net his first goal of the campaign.
St Pat’s began the second half where they had left off the first but found it difficult to build on their lead. This was due in part to a strong Shels back four that tired a little but dealt well with what Pat’s had to offer.
The home side also suffered from some poor finishing. Christy Fagan on 69 minutes and Bolger on 71 minutes both missed the target for the home side when it looked easier to score.
Those Pat’s chances came either side of an attempted bicycle-kick by Shels’ Doyle that could have found the back of the net had he found a bit more power and direction. However there was to be no reward for Johnny McDonnell’s side.
ST PATRICK’S ATH: C larke; O’Brien, Kenna, Browne, Bermingham; Byrne, Maher (Gannon 85 mins), Brennan, Bolger, Forrester (Kelly 82 mins); Flood (Fagan 61 mins).
SHELBOURNE: Burdon; Cornwall, Ryan, Gartland, Doyle; Hanlon, Hurley (O’Connor 72 mins), Cronin, Brennan; Kelly (Tinnelly 79 mins), Murtagh (McGlynn 58 mins).
Referee: P McLoughlin (Mon).