Dundalk kept their European qualification hopes alive with a late win against Drogheda United in the Louth Derby on Thursday night at a bitterly cold Head in the Game Park.

Daniel Cleary’s late goal, via goalmouth scramble, was enough to secure all three minutes with less than five minutes remaining on the watch.

Head Coach Vinny Perth made two changes from the side which defeated Waterford last Friday with Sam Stanton, returning from injury, and Cameron Dummigan coming in for the injured Greg Sloggett and Raivis Jurkovskis, who has returned to his native Latvia following a family bereavement.

It was a frantic opening with both sides struggling to retain possession and the only chance of note was Joe Redmond failing to control a corner at the near post.

Patrick Hoban nodded just over the bar next from Michael Duffy’s corner while Sean Murray at least did warm the gloves of David Odumosu however there was no power in his header.

Daniel O’Reilly had the ball in the net for the home side when his header off a Ronan Murray corner found its way to the net but the linesman spotted that the ball had gone out of play from the dead ball.

Daniel Kelly goes by James Brown. Photo by Ben McShane/Sportsfile

Andy Boyle also had the ball in the net for the Lilywhites when he got on the end of Duffy’s perfect ball in however he was adjudged to have pushed an opposition player in the process.

That was just before the break with the sides going in level at half-time.

That almost changed shortly after the restart when Will Patching’s shot from distance was fumbled by Odumosu but he got fortunate with the ball rebounding off the crossbar into his arm.

Then followed a flurry of Dundalk attacks mostly through corners.

Noting the home goalkeeper struggling under the high ball, Patching and Duffy peppered the goal line with kicks.

Will Patching passed forward beyond Darragh Markey Photo by Ben McShane/Sportsfile

Somehow the Lilywhites didn’t score despite a series of corners with Daniel Kelly, Hoban, Murray and Boyle all coming close.

This was preceded by a good flowing move with Darragh Leahy pulling back for Murray but he couldn’t guide his effort on target.

Cameron Dummigan competes. Photo by Ben McShane/Sportsfile

Former Lilywhite Dane Massey had a looping header goalwards however it never really threatened former team mate Cherrie in goal.

Gary Deegan was next to shoot from a free-kick but he also didn’t threaten Cherrie but it would be Dundalk who took the lead.

Murray’s ball into  the box was flicked on by Duffy. It ended in a scramble with Daniel Cleary bundling the ball home past Odumosu.

That proved to be the final action of note as Rob Harvey drew the match to a close after three additional minutes and saw the Lilywhites move above Drogheda in the table.

DROGHEDA UNITED: David Odumosu; James Brown, Daniel O’Reilly, Joe Redmond, Dane Massey; Conor Kane, Gary Deegan, Killian Philips, Darragh Markey (Dinny Corcoran 87), Mark Doyle; Ronan Murray (Chris Lyons 64). Subs not used: Colin McCabe (GK), Mohammed Boudiaf, Jordan Adeyemo, Luke Heeney, James Clarke, Kaleem Simon,  Ahu Obhakan.

DUNDALK: Peter Cherrie; Cameron Dummigan, Daniel Cleary, Andy Boyle, Darragh Leahy; Sean Murray, Sam Stanton; Daniel Kelly (Sami Ben Amar 88), Will Patching, Michael Duffy; Patrick Hoban (David McMillan 83). Subs not used: Alessio Abibi (GK), Cameron Yates (GK), Sonni Nattestad,  Mayowa Animasahun, Ryan O’Kane, Mark Hanratty, Han Jeongwoo.

Referee: Rob Harvey