Shamrock Rovers heaped further misery on UCD in Belfield to keep level on points with champions Dundalk, without being altogether convincing.

The Hoops, who lost three of their previous four, looked edgy defensively but UCD deserve credit for producing a decent display despite a horrible run of form that could see them bottom of the table soon.

Dan Carr scored the game's only goal as Stephen Bradley's side did the needful on a nice if chilly May evening and, all told, they were by far the better team.

There was a late change for the visitors, Aaron McEneff replaced by Brandon Kavanagh, while struggling college went 3-5-2. The Hoops bossed matters early, Carr twisting and turning on the wing before his cross was hooked back into the danger area by Kavanagh but cleared.

It is remarkable how shaky Rovers, who barely conceded in the opening 10 games, look at the back all of a sudden and Yoyo Mahdy just failed to connect at the far post after Josh Collins drove across goal on 15 minutes.

Hoops led on 22 minutes before a crowd of 1,285. Roberto Lopes found Aaron Greene in space and he crossed to Carr, whose rather scuffed attempt from a matter of yards did enough. They almost doubled their lead moments later but the marauding Trevor Clarke saw his shot saved by Conor Kearns' legs.

Two gorgeous one-twos between Kavanagh and Dylan Watts nearly resulted in a second Hoops goal but Collins intervened and came to the hosts' rescue after blocking Watts' curler.

Neil Farrugia was causing Rovers problems and from his cross Conor Davis' drive was cleared off the line, UCD serving to remind the Rovers-strong crowd that they had not given up.

It was breathless stuff and with 12 minutes still to play before the interval, Carr played in Greene but again Kearns came to the hosts' aid. Carr was a menace but lashed wide after more neat Rovers play as half-time approached.

Ten minutes into the second half McEneff put Carr in, but again Kearns' feet were a magnet for the football. Carr, McEneff and the outstanding Jack Byrne combined after 18 minutes of the second period but Byrne's outside-of-the-foot effort was narrowly wide.

UCD were still in it at 1-0 and fired another warning when Evan Farrell headed over from a corner.

Superb play from Greene set up substitute Joel Coustrain as Rovers sought the relief of a second but his curled effort clipped the post and went wide.

Farrugia was a constant threat for College and his pace tormented Rovers at times, midway through the half crossing for Paul Doyle who missed the target with his left foot. Clarke had a goal disallowed with seven minutes left and shortly afterwards Greene made way for Orhan Vojic, who very nearly scored but again Kearns got down low to save following Byrne's neat pass.

UCD went a little gung-ho towards the end and centre-back Collins hooked over with the visiting crowd increasingly nervous, aware that two points dropped in these circumstances would have been a major blow with Dundalk beating Cork.

UCD: Kearns; Farrell, Scales, Collins, Doyle; O'Farrell, O'Neill, Davis, McClelland, Farrugia; Mahdy (McDonald 46).

Shamrock Rovers: Mannus; O'Brien, Lopes, Grace, Clarke; Carr (Boyle 81), B Kavanagh (Coustrain 67), Watts, Bolger, Byrne; Greene (Vojic 83).

Referee: Neil Doyle (Dublin).