Second-half goals from Gary O'Neill and Jason McClelland secured UCD a 2-1 win over Shelbourne at Tolka Park which sees the Students overtake second-placed Drogheda United in the First Division table.
O'Neill's 11th goal of the season put the Students ahead in a game that had been relatively even for the first hour, but once UCD took the lead they never looked like being caught. Substitute McClelland made it safe six minutes from time and Jame English's late goal wasn't enough to prevent Collie O'Neill's men picking up their third straight win against Shels in 2016.
The magnitude of this result was compounded by the fact that Drogheda United let slip first a 2-0 then a 3-1 lead against runaway league leaders Limerick at United Park. Aaron Greene's 95th minute equaliser for the Blues caused Drogs to drop two points and fall below the Students in the table.
Owen Heary made two changes to the team which lost 2-0 to Limerick in Market's Field last week, the unavailable Aidan Collins and the suspended Daire Doyle replaced by Jack Tuite and Ryan Robinson, the latter returning from suspension himself. UCD boss O'Neill, for his part, opted to retain the same starting XI which defeated Athlone Town 5-1 in Belfield.
The opening 20 minutes were a slow affair with both sides trading chances. Jamie Doyle had the game's first shot in anger five minutes in, but he fired well wide from outside the box. Two minutes later, Kieran 'Marty' Waters saw an effort deflected wide before Liam Scales had one cleared off the line.
Shels striker Adam Evans then had two half-chances in quick succession, the first a dribbler from outside the box which rolled into Niall Corbet's hands and the second a well-struck left-footed half-volley on the left side of the box which went just wide after he got in front of Maxi Kouogan to retrieve a long ball.
Jamie Doyle was looking lively and almost got on the end of an English through-ball in the 23rd minute. He was sprinting away and looked to have beaten Kouogan for pace, but the UCD centre-back was able to stretch out a leg and divert the ball away from the former Student.
Two minutes later and there were chances at both ends. First Cathal Brady wriggled his way into the Shels box and looked to have rounded Greg Murray only for the 'keeper to recover and block his advances. Brady's cut-back was then cut out and Shels broke, with Doyle playing a raking pass over the top for Evans in the UCD box.
The Shels striker took a touch and was about to volley goalward but Josh Collins stuck out a boot to clear for a corner. Cian Kavanagh's delivery looked for all the world that it was landing on Doyle's foot, but a timely intervention from a UCD defender saw the danger averted.
Kouogan was looking assured at the back and used his strength to ease English off the ball in the penalty area when Corbet hesitated to come and collect. However, he passed up a glorious chance to give his side the lead in the 37th minute. Some quick feet from Waters drew a foul from Gavin Boyne on the right corner point of the Reds box.
Gary O'Neill's delivery was on point, as ever, and Kouogan rose highest to connect from six yards. Having scored twice here in the Students' 2-1 win in April, he would have backed himself to find the net again, but he headed over and his own head went into his hands.
UCD lost Cathal Brady to injury just before the interval and he was replaced by Daire O'Connor. The pattern of the first-half continued at the beginning of the second as both sides traded chances, with Ryan Swan and Jamie Doyle firing over from range before Reece McEnteer sliced a cross into the air in his own box and was grateful to Murray for claiming.
60 seconds before McEnteer's moment of panic, Cian Kavanagh had brought an excellent near-post save out of Corbet – though Shels didn't get the corner they were expecting – and he caused the goal-mouth scramble in the 55th minute which caused chaos, but didn't lead to the game's opening goal as Doyle fired wide.
However, after coming close through Waters on two occasions and a Liam Scales header which went over from close range, the Students took the lead in the 66thminute. and it was their set-piece specialist Gary O'Neill who broke the deadlock. It was simple, Shels gave away a free-kick 25 yards from goal and the skipper stuck it in the back of the net.
Swan almost found himself in behind a napping Shels defence immediately, but under pressure could only roll the ball into Murray's arms. In the 75th minute, substitute Dylan Kavanagh got down the right side and tried to cut a ball across the UCD box, but Mark Langtry was able to step in and clear the danger.
However, the next goal in the game would go to UCD and thus end the game as a contest in the 84th minute. Having just come on as a substitute four minutes before, Jason McClelland picked up the ball outside the box and blasted low into the bottom corner for his second league goal of the season.
The Students never looked like losing from the moment they took the lead, but they did concede a consolation goal in stoppage time as English arrived at the back post to get his foot on the end of a Doyle cross for his tenth league goal of the season.
There was time enough for Jason Byrne to come on as a sub for UCD but not enough for Shels to get an equaliser as Corbet punched clear Shannon's cross in the dying seconds to snuff out the late Reds rally.
Shelbourne: Greg Murray; Adam O'Connor, Reece McEnteer, Ryan Robinson, Jack Tuite (Dylan Grimes, 81); Lorcan Shannon, Cian Kavanagh (Dylan Kavanagh, 64), Gavin Boyne, Jamie Doyle; Adam Evans (Carl Walshe, 73), James English.
Subs not used: Jack Brady (GK), Conor Keeley, Michael Kelly, Michael Murphy.
Bookings: G Boyne (68).
UCD: Niall Corbet; Mark Langtry, Maxim Kouogun, Josh Collins, Liam Scales; Gary O'Neill, Greg Sloggett, Jack Watson; Cathal Brady (Daire O'Connor, 45+1), Ryan Swan (Jason Byrne, 90+2), Kieran 'Marty' Waters (Jason McClelland, 80).
Subs not used: Conor O'Donnell (GK), George Kelly, Sean Coyne, Dan Tobin.
Bookings: J Collins (87).
Referee: Robert Hennessey.
Extratime Man of the Match: Maxi Kouogan (UCD).
Fran Reilly joined Extratime.ie in February 2015 having previously written for the Drogheda/Fingal Independents, loi19.com and the Cork City matchday programme. Though only part of the ET family for a relatively short time, the Donaghmede native has already had the opportunity to cover League of Ireland clubs both domestically and in Europe, as well as Republic of Ireland internationals. He can count Martin O'Neill, Roy Keane and Dutch footballing legend Ruud Gullit amongst those he has come face-to-face with during his line of ET work. He still hopes to someday meet Henrik Larsson.
Fran was once sent to watch Lionel Messi play in the Aviva Stadium for Barcelona but left feeling underwhelmed as his performance fell some way short of replicating Wes Hoolahan's against Deportivo la Coruna in August 2004. That famous night was enough to make Fran a Shels fan and he even pulled on the red shirt himself once for Owen Heary's tribute match in November 2013. Hilariously, he saw a penalty saved by unforgiving goalkeeper Lee Murphy, then at Bohemians.
His one day spell as a member of the Extratime media six-a-side panel fared no better, his status as a reporter coming under threat following a string of less than inspirational performances. However, he convinced the ET hierarchy to persevere with him so he lingers on, covering whatever clubs he can reach by public transport. You can follow Fran on Twitter (@FranTomReilly) where he spends most of his time retweeting other people's LOI views and news and claiming them as his own.
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