Murphy denies Drogheda
Drogheda United 0 Shelbourne 0
EUROPA LEAGUE hopefuls Drogheda United ended a run of five straight Premier Division defeats, but they were frustrated by a dogged Shelbourne at Hunky Dorys Park.
Mindful of Thursday's second-leg tie in Sweden, Drogheda manager Mick Cooke made seven changes to the team that held Malmo 0-0 in the first leg and nearly paid the price inside 40 seconds.
Glen Cronin's ball over the top was collected by Sean Brennan and the Drogheda native teed up Lee Murtagh for an easy tap-in, but the newly-signed striker was clearly offside.
Ryan Brennan registered the home side's first shot at goal in the 11th minute, forcing Lee Murphy into a good save low to his right.
However, Shels were a match for their hosts at this stage and Cronin went close with a stinging 35-yard effort before Darren Tinnelly warmed the hands of Drogs 'keeper Michael Schlingermann. Gradually Drogheda gained the upper hand. Declan O'Brien (twice), McNally and Brennan all missed the target and when Brian Gannon rolled the ball into the net, the linesman's flag was raised for offside.
Gannon finally tested Murphy six minutes into the second half as the Boynesiders continued to probe, and two minutes later the netminder made an even better stop to deny O'Brien from point-blank range.
Shels thought they had scored when Mark Leech blasted home from a Brennan cross, but the assistant referee ruled that the ball had gone over the endline.
Apart from a late diving header by Michael Daly which flew narrowly wide the hosts couldn't engineer a clear-cut chance and Shels held out for a hard-earned draw.
DROGHEDA UNITED – Schlingermann; Daly, McNally, Prendergast, Grimes; Brady, Rusk, Gannon, R Brennan, Marks; O'Brien. Subs: Hynes for Rusk (69), G Brennan for Brady (75), Cassidy for Marks (75).
SHELBOURNE – Murphy; Shortall, Flynn, Gartland, Ryan; Brennan, Bayly, Cronin, Tinnelly; Leech, Murtagh. Subs: Hanlon for Tinnelly (58), Hurley for Bayly (75), Mooney for Murtagh (90). Ref – D McKeon (Meath).