Ten-man St Patrick's Athletic moved back to fourth in the Premier Division table after they withstood a Shamrock Rovers siege at Richmond Park on Sunday evening.

Saints boss Stephen O’Donnell urged his side to "embrace the work" after they lost Shane Griffin to a red card four minutes into the second half and he got exactly what he asked for.

Pats endured a battery of pressure in both halves of a hard-fought encounter that ended with O’Donnell joining Griffin in the stands after being shown a second yellow in injury time.

The Hoops’ first dropped points of the season sees their lead at the top of the table cut to four points following Bohemians’ win over Finn Harps on Saturday.

At kick-off, both teams lined up with a high three-man defensive line but within a minute the Saints trio was pinned firmly back into the penalty box, where they would remain for much of the half.

Rovers could, and perhaps should, have led inside four minutes as Aaron Greene burst clear of Rory Feely but a heavy final touch saw the ball run through to his former teammate Brendan Clarke.

Captain Ronan Finn was equally wasteful moments later as he danced into the box but opted to cut back when the chance to shoot on his left arose, and Ian Bermingham cut down the space.

A perfectly-weighted Crossfield pass from Aaron McEneff found Neil Farrugia, who cut the ball back to Jack Byrne, and Clarke did well to turn the resulting shot behind.

Shane Griffin receives a red card from referee Paul McLaughlin

The closest Pats came to a chance in the opening period saw David Titov cross for Georgie Kelly but the on-loan Dundalk striker couldn't quite get his head around the ball.

Moments later, Byrne showed great vision to pick out the run of Graham Burke, but the Preston North End loanee headed straight at the keeper.

With both of his wing backs picking up first half yellow cards, O’Donnell opted to withdraw one of them, the Lithuanian Titov, at the break.

He was joined four minutes later by the other, Griffin, who was shown a second yellow card for cleaning out Gary O’Neill after being nutmegged by the midfielder.

The Athletic enjoyed arguably their best spell of the game in the minutes following the red card but the introduction of Rhys Marshall and Rory Gaffney saw Rovers renew their dominance.

Lee Grace was the first to try his luck with a curling shot from distance, while Neil Farrugia showed a clean set of heels to Dan Ward before stinging the palms of Clarke.

Burke flashed a header across goal from a corner, while Jack Byrne’s daisy-cutter just evaded Clarke’s right-hand post as the Hoops pushed forward in search of the breakthrough.

As the clock wound down, however, Rovers ran out of ideas in the face of the home side’s indefatigable defence and the Saints fully deserved the point.

St. Patrick's Athletic: Brendan Clarke; Rory Feely, Luke McNally, Ian Bermingham; David Titov (Dan Ward 46), Jamie Lennon (Billy King 56), Robbie Benson, Lee Desmond, Shane Griffin; Chris Forrester, Georgie Kelly (Jordan Gibson 56).

Shamrock Rovers: Alan Mannus; Joey O’Brien (Rhys Marshall 62), Roberto Lopes, Lee Grace (Liam Scales 75); Ronan Finn (Rory Gaffney 67), Aaron McEneff, Jack Byrne, Gary O’Neill (Dylan Watts 75), Neil Farrugia; Graham Burke, Aaron Greene (Dean Williams 75).

Referee: Paul McLaughlin.