Andrew Dempsey reports from Richmond Park
St Patrick's Athletic secured their first league win in five attempts with a 2-0 home win over Shelbourne on Saturday at Richmond Park.
A super long-range strike from Chris Forrester opened the Saints’ account on the night, before defender Rory Feely wrapped up all three points with a 52nd minute header.
The result sees the Saints move to within a point of fourth placed Dundalk, while Shelbourne have dropped back into ninth, and remain just four ahead of Finn Harps having played a game more.
Stephen O’Donnell’s Saints side came into the game after a spell of poor recent form – a run of games that has seen the Athletic fall to ninth position.
They have also failed to score in any of their last six games since their 2-0 home win over Finn Harps in the middle of August.
Ian Morris’ Shels have shown encouraging signs in recent weeks, but they too have struggled for wins – leaving them in eighth position ahead of their Saturday night visit to Inchicore.
The Reds made three changes from their recent draw at home to Finn Harps – with Luke Byrne missing out after being controversially dismissed last week.
And it was the visitors who started the better of the sides, going closest to taking an early lead, but Brendan Clarke did well to deny Sean Quinn.
Quinn rose highest to meet a Denzil Fernandes cross into the box – but Clarke was on hand to claw the ball away from nestling in the bottom corner of the net.
However, after a slow start, the hosts grew into the game, and went close through former UCD duo Georgie Kelly and Jason McClelland.
Kelly initially had his glancing header saved by Colin McCabe in the Shelbourne goal – before McClelland blazed over the bar following some good build-up play.
After impressing in spells, the hosts took the lead in the 17th minute through a wonderful Chris Forrester strike.
Forrester profited on a quick throw-in from McClelland and arrowed his long-range effort on goal into the top corner of the net.
McCabe did his get to the ball but he could not extend his arm long enough to prevent the Reds going behind.
But despite conceeding, the visitors rallied – but they were thwarted on a number of occasions by Saints defender Luke McNally.
He stood firm to deny Shels winger Dayle Rooney from raiding forward as the hosts went in a goal up at the break.
Shelbourne’s uphill task deepened early in the second half as the hosts doubled their lead thanks to Feely’s headed effort.
He rose highest to glance his header into the back of McCabe’s net after he connected superbly with Robbie Benson’s excellent corner-kick.
They almost made it 3-0 before the hour mark, but Kelly was denied by the outstretched hand of the Shels ‘keeper.
The on-loan Dundalk forward latched onto a long ball from deep, but he was unable to convert as a third goal of the season for the Saints escaped his grasp.
Following Kelly’s one-on-one – the Saints asserted their authority on the final half-hour of the game and collected the three points with relative ease.
While also being pleased with their win, they will undoubtedly be delighted with the impact made by teenage substitutes Ben McCormack and Darragh Burns – both of whom impressed when called upon by manager Stephen O’Donnell in the second-half.
St. Patrick's Athletic: Brendan Clarke; Lee Desmond, Rory Feely, Jordan Gibson, Shane Griffin, Luke McNally; Chris Forrester, Robbie Benson, Darragh Markey (Ben McCormack 75), Jason McClelland (Darragh Burns 64); Georgie Kelly (Martin Rennie 75).
Subs not used: Ian Bermingham, James Doona, Conor Kearns, David Titov.
Booked: Georgie Kelly (31), Jordan Gibson (40).
Shelbourne: Colin McCabe; Oscar Brennan, Daniel Byrne, Alex O'Hanlon, George Poynton; Mark Byrne, Gary Deegan, Denzil Fernandes (Jaze Kabia 46), Sean Quinn, Dayle Rooney (Shane Farrell 65); Aaron Dobbs (Ciarán Kilduff 65).
Subs not used: Jack Brady, Ryan Brennan, Aidan Friel, Daniel O'Reilly.
Booked: Shane Farrell (84)
Referee: Robert Hennessy
ExtraTime.ie Player of the Match: Rory Feely (St Patrick’s Athletic).