Champions Shamrock Rovers missed an opportunity to regain outright leadership of the Premier Division table in a game of two halves and two dubious penalties at Tallaght Stadium.

Five points clear at the top in early May, Rovers have now won just twice in their last eight games as they couldn't cap head coach Stephen Bradley’s 200th competitive match in charge with a win to remain second behind St Patrick's Athletic on goals scored.

Utterly outplayed in the first half, Drogheda left Dublin 24 happy enough having bounced back from successive defeats.


The first half here was more like the Hoops' early season selves as they controlled the game with Aaron Greene, coming in at left wingback, their only change from Monday's defeat at Bohemians.

Having dropped out of the top four, Drogheda made three changes from last week’s Louth derby defeat, with James Brown injured and virtual ever-presents Mark Doyle and Chris Lyons dropping to the bench.

Despite Rovers enjoying much of the early possession, it was Drogheda who registered the game’s first half chance when Jordan Adeyemo bounced a header wide from a Ronan Murray free kick 11 minutes in.

It wasn’t long before the visitors had some defending to do, though, as they scrambled clear a Sean Gannon shot after Graham Burke’s sublime pass put Greene away on the left to cross.

Gannon was then central to Rovers taking the lead on 19 minutes, going down somewhat theatrically from a Dane Massey’s challenge.

Referee Paul McLaughlin was convinced, showing no hesitation in pointing to the penalty spot. Graham Burke confidently sent David Odumosu the wrong way from 12 yards.

Utterly dominant now, Rovers might have doubled their advantage on the half hour from Danny Mandroiu’s well-worked free kick. Liam Scales eventually nodded down skipper Ronan Finn’s dink for Roberto Lopes who wastefully skied his volley over the top from eight yards.

Drogheda rejigged to a 3-5-2 from the start of the second half, showing an immediate improvement as they enjoyed much more of the ball.

Conor Kane shot tamely into the arms of Alan Mannus while substitute Lyons blazed over after a surging run by Darragh Markey, before Drogheda’s endeavour was rewarded with a penalty of their own on 63 minutes.

Again it was soft as Markey went down easily from minimal contact as he went past Burke. Lyons scored emphatically from the spot.

Working hard to regain control of the game, Rory Gaffney should have restored Rovers’ lead on 74 minute only to head over the bar with the goal at his mercy from Gannon’s cross.

Gaffney then twice worked Odumosu with angled drives as the pressure mounted on the Drogheda goal.

And the Galway striker was inches from scoring a minute from time when his clever flick from Sean Hoare’s delivery came back off the far post with Mandroiu’s follow-up rifled wide.

Drogheda might then have snatched it themselves in stoppage time, Killian Phillips’ header looping narrowly wide from Massey’s free kick.

Shamrock Rovers: Alan Mannus; Sean Hoare, Roberto Lopes, Liam Scales; Sean Gannon, Ronan Finn, Gary O’Neill, Danny Mandroiu, Aaron Greene; Graham Burke; Rory Gaffney.

Drogheda United: David Odumosu; Luke Heeney, Danny O’Reilly, Dane Massey, Conor Kane; Darragh Markey, Ronan Murray (Mark Doyle 56), Gary Deegan, Killian Phillips; Dinny Corcoran (James Clarke 69), Jordan Adeyemo (Chris Lyons 56).

Referee: Paul McLaughlin (Donegal). ==