Shelbourne have gone to the top of the table after a deserved victory over ten-man Athlone Town on Saturday evening.

Mark Rutherford got the only goal in this game on 58 minutes, four minutes before Robbie Hamm saw red for the midland club.

Shelbourne dominated from start to finish but struggled to create clear-cut chances against an Athlone side with a packed five-man midfield.

A rare chance on 32 minutes saw Gary McCabe bring the best out of Athlone keeper Ciaran Kelly, who denied the striker with a good save, tipping the ball over the bar.

Athlone made a double substitution at half time bringing on Noel McGee and Joey Maloney, as they switched to a 4-4-2 formation.

However it didn't seemed to have the effect manager Dermot Lennon planned as Shels took the lead on 58 minutes.

Anthony Flood found space on the edge of the penalty area and played in Rutherford who blasted past Kelly to open the scoring.

Things went from bad to worse for the Lissywollen outfit when left full Hamm received his marching orders after a late tackle on McCabe, who was forced off with injury.

Shelbourne then had a great chance to wrap things up on 83 minutes when Alan Keely played in Mark O' Brien.

The latter got clear on goal but his chipped effort trickled agonisingly wide of the post.

Amazingly, Athlone's first effort on target in the game came deep into injury time, but Philly Reilly's effort was never troubling Shels custodian Dean Delaney as the Dublin club grabbed all three points.

The win sends Dermot Keely's men into first place on goal difference.

Athlone Town: Kelly, Rossiter, Hamm, Sheridan, Keady, Jinks, Russo (Maloney 45), Reilly, O'Dowd, Hayes (McGee 45), McCartney (Lavine 64).

Shelbourne: Delaney, Murphy, Hedderman, Keely, Byrne, McAllister, McGill, O'Brien, Flood, McCabe (Forsyth 65), Rutherford (Chambers, 83).

Referee: G. Kelly (Cork)