By Aaron Clarke (@Aaron_c91)
In a game that UCD were forced to defend for their lives for large periods, an 84th minute wonder-strike from UCD’s Ben Hanrahan saw Collie O’Neill’s side produce an unlikely smash and grab as the students ran out 1-0 victors at Tolka Park on Friday evening.
Shels came into the game aiming to atone for the 4-0 drubbing at the hands of the Students in the sides last encounter last month, and it was Owen Heary’s side who started brightest with early efforts from James English, Dayle Rooney and Chris Lyons, but the trio failed to trouble Niall Corbet in the visiting goal.
As Shels continued to look dangerous going forward, Lyons was involved again, this time his effort forced an excellent close range stop from the UCD shot-stopper. With first-half chances few and far between for the Students, Cian Kavanagh failed to trouble Dean Delaney with a tame effort.
The host continuing to pile on the pressure as the half wore on, and James O’Brien almost opened the scoring in the 25th minute, a cross from English found O’Brien, but the central midfielder failed to find the target from close range.
Soon after Lyons, who was making his first league start of the season for Shels was involved once again, this time this curling effort sailed wide from the edge of the box.
As the constant attacks continued from the host, English was the next Shels player to unleash an effort, but his curling shot was easily claimed by Corbet and less than a minute later, Shels had another excellent chance to break the deadlock after O’Brien found Lyons with a lovely through ball, but the forward’s looping effort was well saved by the onrushing goalkeeper before Lyons failed to connect with the rebound.
UCD’s best opportunity of the half arrived with six minutes remaining when Gary O’Neill unleashed a curling effort from 25 yards, but his strike was easily claimed by Delaney.
If the first-half was all Shels, the second-half continued in the same vein and it was English who had the half’s first opportunity, but the forward could only fire straight at Corbet.
Moments later, Corbet was again called into action, this time the shot-stopper denied Lyons with an excellent low save.
As UCD began to grow into the game, Skipper O’Neill saw his dangerous free-kick sail the wrong side of the Shels goal before a minute later, Georgie Kelly also fired wide for the visitors.
Despite two quick efforts for the Students, Shels continued to pressure the UCD defence and they should have broken the deadlock in the 63rd minute when English found himself through on goal, but Corbet produced a sublime save before Lyons rebound was cleared off the line by Evan Osam.
As Heary’s side continued to press for the game’s first goal, both Adam O’Connor and Mark Hughes failed to trouble the Students goal, and with six minutes remaining UCD grabbed what proved to be the winner when the Shels defence failed to deal with a Corbet goal kick, the ball was allowed to bounce before Hanrahans first time volley from 35 yards sailed into the top corner.
Despite late pressure from Shels, the Students held on for what could prove to be a vital three points in the race for promotion.
Shelbourne FC: Dean Delaney; Adam O’Connor, Aidan Collins (Jack Tuite 71), Derek Prendergast, Reece McEnteer; Adam Evans, Mark Hughes, James O’Brien (David O’Leary HT); Dayle Rooney, Chris Lyons (Lorcan Shannon 82), James English.
Subs Not Used: Jamie Quinn, Niall Lanigan, Aaron Ashe, Jackson Ryan.
Bookings: Derek Prendergast (38).
UCD AFC: Niall Corbet; Dan Tobin, Liam Scales, Maxi Kouogun, Evan Osam; Daire O’Connor (Gareth Coughlan 87), Greg Sloggett, Gary O’Neill, Cian Kavanagh (Josh Collins 65’), Jason McClelland (Ben Hanrahan 65); Georgie Kelly.
Subs Not Used: Conor Kearns, Sean Coyne, Conor Crowley, Robert Manley.
Bookings: Gary O’Neill (85).
Referee: Eoghan O’Shea
Man of the Match: Niall Corbet (UCD AFC)