FAI Cup finalists Drogheda United were held to a 1-1 draw in the Airtricity Premier Division clash at Hunky Dorys Park as UCD edged a point closer to safety.

Both goals came in the first-half, Gavin Brennan putting Drogheda ahead before Robbie Benson netted an equaliser for the Students.

UCD might have fancied their chances against a Drogheda side possibly more focused on their forthcoming FAI Cup Final date, but the visitors were playing catch-up inside 10 minutes.

Gavin Brennan galloped down the left flank and leapt over a couple of challenges before delivering an inch-perfect cross for Peter Hynes who headed convincingly past Conor O’Donnell.

Sean Russell, son of manager Martin, was the Students’ only threat early on and he had a shot blocked by Alan Byrne before his 25-yard free-kick forced a fine save from Drogs keeper Gabriel Sava.

But Drogheda were largely on top and Hynes missed a great chance to double their lead with a close-range flick, before driving a 25-yard free towards the bottom corner and bringing out the best in O’Donnell.

Out of nothing UCD almost conjured an equaliser when Craig Walsh’s speculative 30-yard effort cracked off the outside of Sava’s right-hand post.

But the Students did not have to wait long to regain parity as the watch was showing 34 minutes when Robbie Benson muscled his way into the box and smashed a fine shot past Sava.

Drogheda pushed hard in the early stages of the second half for a second goal and Ryan Brennan was denied at point blank range by O’Donnell, before Hynes cracked a header off the crossbar from a Paul O’Conor corner.

Walsh was guilty of an error of judgment on 55 minutes when he opted to shoot from distance when the Students had a four on three situation, but chances at both ends were few and far between after that as the game became disjointed amid a raft of substitutions.

Four minutes from full-time Alan Byrne thought he had won it for Drogheda, but O’Donnell made a fine diving save to his left to keep out the defender’s header.

In stoppage time Gavin Brennan was narrowly wide after cleverly working a shooting opportunity from distance and Philip Hand forced another fine stop from O’Donnell as the Students held on for a point.

DROGHEDA UTD: Sava; Daly, McNally, Grimes (Foley 55), Hand; Byrne; Rusk, O’Conor, R Brennan, G Brennan; Hynes (O’Brien 73).

UCD: O’Donnell; Langtry, O’Connor, Kavanagh, Coyne; Clarke, Walsh (Belhout 79), Leahy, McCabe; Russell; Benson.

Referee: A Azzopardi (Malta).