A quick-fire double from Eamon Zayed and Ciaran Kilduff early in the second half proved decisive as Shamrock Rovers picked up three SSE Airtricity League Premier Division points with a 3-2 win at United Park.
The Hoops hit the front after only 11 minutes courtesy of a fine strike from Ronan Finn, but Drogheda were quickly back on terms thanks to a Gavin Brennan penalty and the sides were still level at the interval.
Zayed’s glancing header restored Rovers’ lead on 52 minutes and five minutes later Kilduff scrambled in a third goal, rendering Philly Hughes’ late strike a mere consolation.
Rovers bossed possession straight from the kick-off and it was no surprise when they hit the front after only 11 minutes.
Drogheda gave the ball away from their own throw-in near the corner flag and Zayed teed up Ronan Finn who rifled a superb 20-yard shot past Dave Ryan in the Drogheda goal.
That early setback seemed to awaken the hosts and they immediately forced a chance of their own, Gary O’Neill heading over the bar from point-blank range from a Cathal Brady cross.
Suddenly the Boynesiders had the upper hand and they made it count on 22 minutes when Conor Kenna tripped O’Neill just inside the box and Gavin Brennan smashed home the resulting penalty off the inside of the post.
The remainder of the first half was a hard-fought, scrappy affair, with just one chance of note for each team.
Gary McCabe blasted over when he had more time to pick his spot just short of the half-hour mark, and then Brennan looped a header onto the post from Michael Daly’s cross.
But just when Rovers seemed to be losing their way, they nosed themselves back in front on 52 minutes - Zayed guiding a firm header past Ryan from a fine Simon Madden centre.
There was nothing pretty about the Hoops’ third goal just five minutes later, but very effective nonetheless, with Kilduff stretching to guide the ball past Ryan from close range.
Rovers seemed to think they had the game won, but three minutes from time substitute Philly Hughes put a different complexion on things when he fired past Barry Murphy from close range.
The final whistle couldn’t come soon enough for Rovers after that, but they held out to inflict a fourth consecutive defeat on the Boynesiders.
Drogheda United: Dave Ryan; Michael Daly, Alan McNally, Paul Andrews, Shane Grimes; Cathal Brady, Stephen Maher (Paul Crowley 81), Ciaran McGuigan, Gavin Brennan; Gary O’Neill; Declan O’Brien (Philly Hughes 75).
Subs not used: Dylan Connolly.
Shamrock Rovers: Barry Murphy; Simon Madden, Conor Kenna (Rob Cornwall 75), Jason McGuinness, Sean Heaney (Luke Byrne 46); Gary McCabe (Kieran Marty Waters 70), Stephen McPhail, Ronan Finn, Shane Robinson; Eamon Zayed, Ciaran Kilduff.
Subs not used: Craig Hyland.
Referee: Padraigh Sutton (Clare).