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Peamount United maintained their eight-point lead at the top of So Hotels Women’s National League with a valuable point on the road against second placed Shelbourne, but it could have been even better for the visitors.

Aine O’Gorman’s spot-kick was saved at the death by Rachael Kelly, after Pearl Slattery had given the Reds the share of the spoils halfway through the second half. 

Megan Smyth-Lynch opened the scoring after her low set-piece found its way into the back of Kelly’s net on a pulsating day of action at Tolka Park.

Having easily swept aside the challenge of Limerick last time out with a seven-nil win, James O’Callaghan made two changes from the win over the Shannonsiders, with Dearbhaile Beirne and Naoisha McAloon starting in place of Niamh Reid-Burke and Niamh Farrelly.

The Reds also made a change from their most recent win over DLR Waves, with Rebecca Cooke coming in for winger Isibeal Atkinson as manager Dave Bell sought to fire his side back into the title hunt.

With Shels often coming into home games at Tolka Park as clear favourites, they were perhaps unfortunate to not have gone behind early on, with Rachael Kelly parrying clear a fiercely hit drive.

Peas went closer just minutes later through Eleanor Ryan-Doyle, but she could only put her glancing header wide of goal after a well-placed Megan Smyth-Lynch delivery on the left.

The visitors continued to stamp their authority on the game, with Ryan-Doyle once again going close. With the goal at her mercy, she could only head straight at a relieved Kelly in the Reds goal.

The hosts grew into the game as the half wore on, with some neat passing play in the middle of the park encouraging a healthy home crowd.

Former Republic of Ireland under-17 international Cooke’s header was cleared off the line by the visitors after a looping cross from the right-flank.

However, just past the half-hour mark, Peamount took the lead after a free-kick from the right hand side.

Chemaou was taken down just on the edge of the penalty area, before Smyth-Lynch stepped up to take the set-piece as the ball found its way into the back of the net with a low delivery.

And if it wasn’t for the quick reaction of Kelly, the Reds may have found themselves two behind minutes later.

Aine O’Gorman’s looping strike was just tipped away from target by the Shels netminder, with Peas increasing their dominance as the opening period ended.

The opening stages of the second half saw the game undergo its first real lull, with both sides cancelling each other out – Chemaou’s mazy run resulted in the ball just veering wide of goal, the only notable talking point of a quiet spell.

However, the game exploded itself back into life with just over twenty minutes remaining when Shels captain Slattery headed home close range.

Jessica Ziu’s quickly taken corner found Alex Kavanagh, before the midfielder found the towering centre-back at the back post, where she made no mistake.

Shels were then caught napping moments later, with Ryan-Doyle ghosting in at the back post but she could only stab her effort wide of goal when it looked easier to score than miss.

The lively forward had an even better chance minutes after, after a through ball from Megan-Lynch. With the goal at her mercy, Kelly made herself big to avert the danger as the hosts.

While the game did peter out during the closing stages of the game, there was still time for late drama as Kelly stood tall to save O’Gorman’s late spot-kick, earning the Reds a point at the death.

Shelbourne FC: Rachael Kelly; Jessica Gargan, Pearl Slattery; Rebecca Cooke (Alannah McEvoy, 63), Jamie Finn, Rachel Graham (Kate Mooney, 89), Alex Kavanagh, Chloe Mustaki, Emily Whelan (Isibeal Atkinson, 72), Jessica Ziu; Noelle Murray.

Peamount United: Naoisha McAloon; Dearbhaile Beirne, Louise Corrigan, Rachel Doyle, Lucy McCartan, Lauryn O'Callaghan (Della Doherty, 86); Karen Duggan, Eleanor Ryan Doyle, Megan Smyth-Lynch, Claire Walsh; Naima Chemaou (Louise Masterson, 80), Aine O'Gorman.

Referee: Paula Brady.

 

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