By Aaron Clarke (@Aaron_c91)
Second-half goals from James English and a late Alan Byrne strike ensured Shelbourne ended a run of three games without victory as Owen Heary’s side were forced to battle back from a goal down to defeat UCD 2-1 at the Bowl on Friday evening.
The Reds who came into the game chasing a first league victory against the Students since August 2015, were hoping to produce a better display than their last appearance to the South Dublin venue after suffering a 4-0 drubbing earlier in the season, and it was them who had the game’s first effort through Michael Murphy after the Leaving Cert student struck from distance, however, his tame effort failed to trouble the UCD shot-stopper.
With both sides looking to settle into their rhythm of play, they soon exchanged opportunities. First Josh Collins headed wide a Gary O’Neill corner before Adam Evans fired wide. The Shels winger will be disappointed he failed to trouble Niall Corbet after some excellent pressing saw him gifted possession midway inside the UCD half.
Despite both Collins and Evans failing to find the target, the game’s first goal arrived two minutes later, after Jason McClelland’s free-kick was allowed to bounce by the Shels defence before the ball found the back of the net off the knee of Maxi Kouogun.
Shelbourne almost hit back instantly. Evans found himself through one-on-one with Corbet, but the 23 year old fired wide from an acute angle. As UCD continued to press for a second goal, Kouogun almost found himself in the right place at the right time for a second goal, but on this occasion, McClelland’s free-kick sailed into Dean Delaney’s hands.
As Evans continued to bee Shels best threat going forward, it was he who instigated two quick chances for the Red, first his free-kick was headed across goal by Byrne before Dylan Kavanagh’s shot was straight at Corbet. Minutes later, Evans beat Evan Osam down the right flank before his cross picked out English, however, the forward failed to find the target.
Less than a minute after English’s miss, the hosts should have doubled their lead when Georgie Kelly’s headed effort cannoned off the post before the rebound fell to Kouogun who fired wide from close range.
If the first-half was predominately UCD, Heary’s team talk appeared to spark his team into life and three minutes after the break they equalised, when Evans picked out English and the forward made no mistake with his glancing header from six yards.
Despite conceding early after the restart UCD almost regained their advantage 90 seconds later when Daire O’Connor’s mishit shot fell to Kelly, but the forward fired wide from ten yards.
With confidence on a high after English’s strike, Evans was the next Shels player to go close after a blistering run, but his effort forced a fingertip save from Corbet to push the ball onto the woodwork.
Soon after, Corbet was almost caught flat footed when Dylan Kavanagh’s low shot from 25 yards took a wicked deflection, but the ball sailed the wrong side of the goal.
As the visitors continued to press forward, Corbet was again called into action, this time his low save denied Dylan Kavanagh and from the resulting corner, the unmarked English volleyed wide from ten yards.
With the hosts second-half chances restricted, Liam Scales will feel he should have done better late on after he was allowed to glide through the Shels defence before firing straight at Delaney from close range.
Soon after, as Shels fans continued to berate referee Alan Carey over his decisions, the Reds almost found themselves behind when the unmarked Kelly headed wide a McClelland corner.
Less than a minute after Kelly’s miss, Shels grabbed what proved to be the game’s final goal when Byrne volleyed home a corner at the back post to send the away fans into hysterics.
Despite a late effort from Daire O’Connor, Shelbourne held on for a vital three points which sees them leapfrog Longford Town into fifth place in the First Division table, while defeat for the Students leaves them seven points behind league leaders Waterford FC who travel to the Bowl next Friday evening.
UCD AFC: Niall Corbet; Josh Collins, Liam Scales, Maxi Kouogun, Evan Osam; Daniel Tobin (Ben Hanrahan 83), Timmy Molloy (Cian Kavanagh 75), Gary O’Neill, Daire O’Connor, Jason McClelland (Rob Manley 90+3); Georgie Kelly.
Subs Not Used: Finn McGowan, Joe Manley, Sean Coyne, Sean Byrne.
Booked: Liam Scales (54).
Shelbourne FC: Dean Delaney; Adam O’Connor, Derek Prendergast, Aidan Collins (Alan Byrne 29), Reece McEnteer; Adam Evans (James Brown 90+3), Niall Lanagan, Michael Murphy, Dylan Kavanagh (Aaron Ashe 90+5), Dylan Grimes; James English.
Subs Not Used: James Quinn, Jackson Ryan, Dayle Rooney, Chris Lyons.
Booked: Niall Lanagan (40), Adam O’Connor (45), Michael Murphy (56) Reece McEnteer (79).
Referee: Alan Carey
Man of the Match: Adam Evans (Shelbourne FC)