A David McMillan penalty six minutes from time earned ten-man UCD a 1-0 victory against Drogheda United at the Belfield Bowl.
The match had all the hallmarks of a no-score draw, until McMillan was pulled down in the box in the 83rd minute.
He calmly stood up to take the kick himself, powering it low to Michael Schlingerman's right.
Drogheda thought they had equalised two minutes later.
UCD keeper Ger Barron seemed unsure under a cross, but when the ball was bundled over the line, the referee ruled that the Students custodian had been fouled and disallowed the goal.
In a dull first half Robbie Benson’s shot from the edge of the box on 39 minutes was the best effort.
He linked well with Gary Burke before forcing a good save from Schlingerman.
That said, UCD could have led inside two minutes, but McMillan’s close-range attempt was cleared off the line by Philip Hand.
Hand contributed at the other end too. Most of Drogheda’s chances in the first half came from his good work on the left-hand side.
Eight minutes into the second half, UCD could have gone ahead.
Burke’s deflected shot led to a corner which Chris Mulhall took.
It broke to Burke 20 yards out but this time his shot hit the upright and Drogheda survived.
Things weren't looking too good for the Students when David O'Connor saw red on 75 minutes for a professional foul.
He dragged Declan O'Brien down 30 yards from goal and Maltese referee Trustin Farrugia Cann had no option but to send him off.
Sean Brennan failed to capitalise with the resulting free-kick, which he sent wide.
Shortly after O’Connor’s sending-off, Drogheda had a shot of their own saved off the line. Paul Crowley sent in a header which broke to O’Brien, but Michael Leahy did enough to prevent a goal.
However, the penalty was to prove decisive, as Martin Russell’s side move to 30 points with two matches left to play.
UCD: Ger Barron, Hugh Douglas, Ciaran Nangle, David O'Connor, Michael Leahy, Paul O'Conor, Robbie Benson, Gary Burke (Mark Langtry 78), David McMillan, Samir Belhout Chris Mulhall
Drogheda United: Michael Schlingerman, Philip Hand, Derek Prendergast, Alan McNally, John Sullivan (Sean Brennan 71), Peter Hynes (Tiernan Mulvenna 58), Paul Crowley, Brian Gannon, Declan O'Brien, Jason Marks, Alan Byrne
Referee: Trustin Farrugia Cann