Shelbourne upset eircom League of Ireland First Division leaders Dundalk tonight at Tolka Park, with a first half Anthony Flood goal separating the sides.
Shels opened brightly and should have taken the lead in the fifth minute when a combination of errors by the visiting defence left Flood clean through on goal.
Unfortunately for Dermot Keely’s charges the striker pulled his shot to the left.
The same player almost pounced seven minutes later. He picked out Lacey with a clever ball and the winger’s scuffed cross made its way back to Flood whose shot on the turn was well saved by Gallagher.
Shelbourne’s purple patch coincided with a period of time that Dundalk were down to ten men as Shaun Williams was off the pitch receiving treatment. The Lilywhites could scarcely afford to lose another man, having travelled with a squad severely depleted through injury, suspension and a honeymoon.
Williams was back on the field of play, however, when Flood made it third time lucky in the 17th minute to put the hosts in front.
Lacey made a dash down the left wing and his delightfully-weighted cross was expertly nodded home by the tall number nine.
The home side worked extremely hard for the rest of the half, and they were well worth their 1-0 interval lead.
Dundalk’s inability to get a firm hold of the game led to a lot of frustration on their part, with striker Robbie Doyle’s persistent fouling earning him a yellow card on the stroke of half time.
Shelbourne started the second half as they had the first and some neat passing movements saw them almost unlock the Louth outfit’s back four on more than one occasion.
Dundalk substitute Cormac McArdle had a chance on the hour mark, but his half-blocked shot was easily collected by Shels stopper Tony O’Dowd.
There was a moment of danger for Shels with 25 minutes left when Williams unleashed a drive that O’Dowd cold only beat out.
The home ‘keeper was quick to follow the ball out and punch the ball to safety, with Dundalk players closing in.
The game really opened up at that stage and Shelbourne’s Mark O’Brien’s surging run from midfield ended with his fine effort marginally clearing the crossbar.
Moments later Gallagher pulled off a tremendous double-save to deny Flood and then Mark Rooney from extending the hosts’ advantage.
The home fans reacted by raising the decibel level but they were only matching the vocal away support which had been chanting incessantly throughout the game.
Dundalk’s Vinny Perth had a lucky escape when he came through the back of Flood with a scything challenge with just under ten minutes to go. The centre-back had been booked for body-checking Lacey just five minutes beforehand. Referee Pauric Sutton did not even consider the tackle worthy of a free.
Substitute Trevor Vaughan almost levelled matters with seven minutes remaining. The veteran Dundalk forward, who has been plagued by injuries this season, had a fierce shot tipped over.
Shelbourne had a nervous final few minutes, including four minutes of additional time, but held on to record only their fourth win of the season.
For John Gill’s Dundalk, this defeat followed a draw at basement side Kilkenny City last week, and means that Cobh Ramblers can claim top spot if they beat Finn Harps tomorrow night.
Gill will be praying his injury crisis comes to an end sooner rather than later.
Shelbourne: O’Dowd, L’Estrange, Keely, Malcolm, McCulloch, Chambers, Murphy, O’Brien, Lacey, Flood (Roche, 89), Rooney
Dundalk: Gallagher, Flanagan, Perth, Dunne, Crawley, O’Connor, Marney, Williams (Vaughan, 66), Smyth (C McArdle, 56), Doyle (Hand 75), Hughes.
Referee: Pauric Sutton