Shelbourne kept themselves in the eircom First Division title race with a relatively comfortable victory over Monaghan United at Tolka Park.

The vital goal came inside the opening 15 minutes when on-loan David McAllister converted a penalty after Philip Gorman was fouled in the box.

Gorman had a great chance to make it 2-0 early in the second half but his shot was well saved.

Shels had to endure a nervy end to the game but held on to move to within three points of leaders Dundalk.

The hosts had the ball in the net inside two minutes but Gorman’s effort was ruled out for offside.

The former Kildare County frontman played a key role in the goal when he raced on to Darren Forsyth’s headed flick only to be felled in the area.

McAllister stepped up and slotted home low and to the right of Monaghan goalkeeper Brendan Kennedy who got a hand to the ball but couldn’t keep it out.

Gorman and Forsyth linked up well until the latter went was replaced at half-time, but Shels fans were denied seeing top scorer Anto Flood in action as he was left out of the squad for the second game in a row.

His absence is believed to be punishment for going against procedure and taking a penalty that he missed in the 0-0 draw with Waterford United.

Had McAllister taken and scored the spot-kick against the Blues, Shels would now be just one point behind the Lilywhites at the top of the table.

Gary McCabe tested warmed Kennedy’s gloves again just after the half hour, and would have a fierce drive deflected over before the interval.

The visitors’ only real chance of the half fell to Paul Whelan in the 38th minute when he turned the Shels defence inside out but had his attempt blocked by the legs of home ‘keeper Dean Delaney.

Shelbourne’s dominance continued in the second half with both McAllister and substitute Mark Rutherford having weak headers saved.

Gorman had a glorious chance to double Shels’ advantage in the 56th after an excellent through ball from Robbie Hedderman but the striker’s shot straight at Kennedy.

The failure to land a second goal meant that the hosts became increasingly nervous and Dermot Keely’s men were also guilty of playing too deep, inviting Mons onto them.

Chambers was gifted a chance late on courtesy of a loose pass by Sean Brennan but Graham Gartland got back make a great last-ditch tackle to save his team-mate’s blushes.

Shelbourne: Delaney; Murphy, Keely, Brennan, Hedderman; McCabe (Chambers, 74 mins), McAllister, O’Brien, Keddy (McGill, 73); Gorman, Forsyth (Rutherford, h/t).

Monaghan United: Kennedy; McCrossan (Haran, 84 mins), McMahon, Mooney, Gartland; Whelan, Tierney (Hanaphy, 63), O’Connor, Clancy; Scully, Brennan (Hand, 84).

Referee: Pauric Sutton.