For the second time in the space of five days, Dundalk ground out another late victory with Sean Hoare's last-minute winner breaking St Patrick's Athletic's resolve at Oriel Park.

After seeing off Bohemians with a 96th-minute penalty on Monday night, Vinny Perth's side had to dig deep again and a chunk of good fortune helped them maintain their place at the top of the table.

With the clock showing 90 minutes, Michael Duffy's corner bounced around the penalty area but Kevin Toner's attempted clearance cannoned off Hoare and flew into the top corner, sparking scenes of jubilation.

The visitors created the first real chance of a poor first half when Simon Madden's delivery found Mikey Drennan but he couldn't keep his header on target. Pats' top scorer should have done even better six minutes later when he met Rhys McCabe's free but, again, his effort posed no real danger to Gary Rogers.

Dundalk continued to look flat with Sean Murray's free-kick, which was tipped around the post by Brendan Clarke, the closest they came in the opening half an hour. They did show signs of chugging into gear as the half ended with John Mountney heading over at the far post and Murray curling one into Clarke's arms.

The introduction of Jordan Flores at the break injected real purpose and Ian Bermingham did extremely well to hook a vicious Dean Jarvis cross behind with a number of white shirts ready to pounce.

Dundalk continued to work the left flank and Michael Duffy saw a deflected effort creep wide of the post with Clarke rooted to the spot. The Lilywhites winger then prodded a Patrick McEleney ball across the face of goal when it looked easier to score.

Pat's struggled to make an impression in the final third but they almost landed a sucker punch in the 68th minute when Drennan let fly from close-range but Jarvis was on hand to make a hugely important block.

Perth introduced Georgie Kelly as Dundalk went to an orthodox 4-4-2 but Harry Kenny's side remained disciplined and both Kevin Toner and Jamie Lennon showcased their stubbornness by throwing themselves at Patrick Hoban and Jarvis respectively in the final 15 minutes.

It looked like they had done enough to take something from the game when Kelly glanced a Duffy corner just wide in the 88th minute but Lady Luck turned her back on the Saints and flashed a broad grin at Hoare just two minutes later to keep Dundalk ahead of the pack on goal difference.

Dundalk: Gary Rogers; Sean Gannon, Brian Gartland, Sean Hoare, Dean Jarvis; Chris Shields, Sean Murray (Jordan Flores HT); John Mountney (Georgie Kelly 71), Patrick McEleney (Daniel Kelly 88), Michael Duffy; Patrick Hoban.

St Patrick's Athletic: Brendan Clarke; Dave Webster, Kevin Toner, Ciaran Kelly; Simon Madden, Jamie Lennon, Rhys McCabe, Darragh Markey, Ian Bermingham; Mikey Drennan, Gary Shaw (Jake Walker 85).

Referee: Paul McLaughlin.