Drogheda United returned to the top of the eircom League, Premier Division with this hard earned victory at United Park over a St Patrick's Athletic side who will feel they did enough in the second half to have merited a point.
The home side completely dominated the first half but it was an entirely different story in the second when the Saints took the game to their opponents.
Drogheda on the back foot for most of the second period managed to hold out for the win which sends them off to Finland in good heart for their UEFA Cup tie with Helsinki on Thursday next.
With barely four minutes on the watch Drogheda won a free thirty yards from goal which Paul Keegan floated into the box for new captain Jason Gavin who completely unmarked guided his header past keeper Barry Ryan to the net.
United went two up with quarter of an hour gone when Keegan knocked another free to Shane Robinson on the left which appeared to be going out for a goal kick. But Robinson never gave up the chase as he kept the ball in play and pulled it across the box for Eamon Zayed who cracked home a debut goal for his new club.
St Pats threatened for the first time with 31 minutes gone when Sean O'Connor's cross to the back post from the left found Mark Rutherford who stabbed the ball wide.
Drogheda finished the opening 45 minutes strongly and really should have gone in at half time more than two goals to the good.
Pats were back in the game just ten minutes into the second half when Graham Gartland tripped Mark Quigley in the penalty area conceding a penalty. Alan Reilly took the spot kick which keeper Dan Connor got his hands to but couldn't prevent the ball entering the net.
The visitors with their tails up now pushed for an equaliser as Mark Rutherford crossed from the right for Paul Keegan whose header sailed over the bar.
Seven minutes from time match referee Damien Hancock was forced to retire injured and he was replaced for the closing stages by fourth official Neil Doyle.
Pats continued to press for an equalising goal as Stephen Quigleys thirty yard screamer was brilliantly tipped to safety by Dan Connor three minutes from time and within sixty seconds Connor again came to Drogheda's rescue when he denied the same player with another fine stop.
In injury time Drogheda almost had a third when Gavin Whelan's shot was turned round the post by Barry Ryan.