Shelbourne picked up a vital win in their quest for a return to the top flight when they came from behind to defeat Longford Town at Flancare Park.
This re-arranged clash proved most entertaining. Shelbourne needed all three points to go top, while Longford are playing well since Vinny Perth took charge and the young boss is looking for the results that may guarantee him a full-time job for next season.
The visitors started brightly and spurned a couple of early chances with both Alan Keely and Alan Byrne testing the Longford defence in the opening quarter-hour.
However, it was Longford who hit the front after 20 minutes. A delightful right wing cross from Damian Rushe was not dealt with by Shelbourne keeper Dean Delaney and Daire Doyle was on hand to bravely head the ball home at the far post.
Shels should have been level on the half hour when Mark Rutherford swung in an inch perfect cross to the head of Alan Byrne. However, a point blank save from Neil Gallagher prevented a certain goal.
At the other end Alan Lynch went close in the 33rd minute. His drive from just outside the penalty area was just wide of Delaney’s goal.
Shelbourne knew that defeat could be fatal to their promotion hopes. And it was apparent that manager Dermot Keely made his troops aware of this during the half-time break.
Within 90 seconds of the restart Shels were level. Longford failed to deal with things at the back and top scorer Anthony Flood pounced to drill the ball past Gallagher.
Soon after Mark O’Brien had a chance to put the Dubliners in front but his effort was well gathered by Gallagher.
Longford were still causing sporadic problems for the Shels rearguard. Alan Lynch had a shot knocked out for a corner as the midland club sought to go back in front.
However, a sublime goal had Shelbourne back in front in the 63rd minute. Flood flicked the ball into the path of former Longford player Dave Freeman and the substitute cracked home a superb lead goal for the title favourites.
Substitute Jason Oladele nearly had Longford level in the 78th minute. However Delaney got back to somehow tip the ball over the crossbar when it seemed that the striker’s long range effort was destined to level matters.
The home side did most of the attacking over the closing minutes. However Shelbourne held out for their most important victory of the season.
Longford Town: Gallagher; Gough, Frawley, Bermingham, O’Riordan; Doyle (Oladele 73), Hardy, Douglas, Rushe, Lynch (Murphy 60); McKenna.
Shelbourne: Delaney; Murphy, Byrne, Keely, Hedderman; Chambers (Freeman 45), McGill, McAllister, O’Brien, Rutherford (Keddy 59); Flood.
Referee: N. Doyle (Dublin)