Report by Eoghan Rock
Dundalk got the game underway, and both sides dug in from the start. Dundalk had the first chance of the game, Jordan Kelly was played through on goal but fired his shot over the cross bar under pressure from the Shels centre back. A free kick followed from Dundalk and Dean swung in a teasing ball, but again an unmarked Jordan Kelly at the back post failed to take advantage and headed his effort wide. Shels responded, Jordan Connell broke onto a loose ball and looped a ball into the box, only for Pastuzka to head just wide of the post. The battle raged in the middle of the park as both sides looked to take the lead. Dundalk won a free kick on the edge of the Shelbourne box and the resulting cross gave Dundalk the lead, Vinny Smith chipped the ball into the box and Watters was there to score as his low powerful header was too hard for keeper O’Neill to keep out and he could only palm it into the net. Dundalk 1-0 Shels.
Shels were under increasing pressure and conceded another free and again could have conceded a second goal. The ball was whipped in and only partially cleared to the edge of the box, where Scott Prendergast let fly, only for his scorching strike to skim the post and out of play. Shels responded in spectacular fashion, Aidan Keena raced through the back four and flicked it past the on-rushing goalkeeper Finn, who tackled the striker which resulted in a penalty and booking for the shot stopper. Keena dusted himself off and stepped up to take the penalty, burying it in the bottom corner. Dundalk 1-1 Shelbourne.
Shels had a decent spell of possession but were pegged back and they conceded a corner, wich resulted in a goal as the corner was met by centre forward Kelly who powered his header into the back of the net on the brink of half time. Dundalk lead again. Dundalk 2-1 Shelbourne.
Dundalk kept battling for a third and again came close from another good strike from Prendergast but his looping effort from outside the box flew over the cross bar in the final piece of action in the first half.
Shels got the second half under way desperate to equalise but both sides failed to produce any chances early on in the half as the tackles flew in. Shels had the first threatening attack when Keena flicked on a kick out for Adrian Pastuszka to run on to, and from an acute angle and under pressure, he could only smack his shot over the cross bar. Again Pastuszka looked to score, he picked up a pass just inside the box and let fly, only for his shot to fizz past the post as Dundalk kept their lead intact. Dundalk came forward and looked menacing, and Smith found space on the edge of the box and tried to guide his shot into the top corner, but again failed to hit the target and it went over the crossbar. Shels had a free kick in a dangerous position outside the box, but Aidan Keena failed to trouble the goalkeeper and went harmlessly over.
Dundalk looked to put the game to bed, and centre back Hughes crept around the back post at a corner for a free header but again aimless finishing meant the scores remained the same. Shelbourne equalised in tremendous style, Jamie Lennon took a free kick from 40 yards and he let fly, his blistering strike curled into the corner in a ‘Goal of the Season’ contender to Shelbourne’s delight. Dundalk refused to lie down and nearly took the lead again, as Watters could only curl his shot wide from 6 yards out to his agony.
Dundalk were close to regaining their lead but Jordan Kelly’s header was wonderfully saved low by O’Neill to prevent a goal. Shels were pushing for a winner and won a free kick on the edge of the box. Lennon took the free and forced a solid save from the keeper who tipped it round for a corner which eventually he gathered. Dundalk took the lead late in the game, Watters gathered a loose ball on the edge of the box, and his scruffy effort was enough to roll past the near post and into the net to take the lead again. It looked set to be an agonising loss for the league leaders Shelbourne.
Keena had a chance to add his second of the game as he swivelled past the defender and blasted his shot goal-wards but the Dundalk shot-stopper produced a strong hand to prevent an equaliser. Dundalk nearly added a fourth when a clever chipped ball was met by the 10 but his glancing header failed to land the target as the referee blew his whistle for the final action of the game. League chasers Dundalk had gained three points in what was a tight affair in Oriel Park