Report by Andrew Dempsey of ExtraTime.com

Cabinteely FC 1 Cobh Ramblers 0

Cabinteely maintained their three-point lead at the top of the First Division table thanks to a dramatic 1-0 win over Cobh Ramblers on Friday evening.

Shane Barnes’ 75th minute winner was the difference between the sides as the Green and Whites strengthened their already strong promotion challenge.

After being held away from home last weekend against Wexford, Pat Devlin’s injury-ravaged side saw two changes from that particular stalemate.

Stuart Ashton’s Cobh Ramblers made alterations themselves, with the Rams seeing Ben O’Riordan appear in the starting eleven in the place of Conor Drinan.

The clash between the sides – their 19th since Cabo were admitted into the League of Ireland in 2015 – saw Devlin’s charges put their unbeaten record put on the line.

Cobh, on the other hand, made the trip to Stradbrook Road after picking up just one point on the road this season prior to their trip to the South Dublin venue.

There was late heartbreak for the Rams on their last visit to Dublin, against UCD, as Yoyo Mahdy’s late winner earned a winner for the Students back in February.

And, building on from their late rally against Galway United last weekend, Cobh Ramblers started the better of the two sides, with Michael Kelly forced into action early on.

He first had to save well from a Charlie Lyons strike from inside the box, and again from O’Riordan just seconds later.

However, the danger had not diminished for the hosts, with Kelly forced to makes a telling save to deny Cobh full-back Darryl Walsh.

Walsh went close again minutes later – this time through a free-kick – but he was once again foiled by the outstretched arm of Kelly in the Cabinteely goal.

Cabinteely grew into the game as the half wore on, although they were unable to create anything of note to test Paul Hunt in the Cobh goal.

The Rams did have the ball in the back of the Cabo net just before the half-time break, but O’Riordan was adjudged offside after he was found at the back-post via John Kavanagh’s excellent cross.

However, Cobh were unable to make their dominance and chances count in the first half, and Cabo ought to have made more of their early second half chances.

The best chance of note saw top scorer Shane Barnes denied by an excellently timed tackle by Cobh skipper Phillips.

The Green and Whites threatened again midway through the second half, but Christian Lotefa could not steer his headed effort on target from Keith Dalton’s corner.

Cabo were not to be denied 15 minutes from time as Barnes poked home to score his fifth league goal of the season.

The former Wexford forward poked home after the ball was kept in play by Dalton following Fox’s in-swinging cross from the right flank.

Ashton’s young guns felt aggrieved to have a penalty appeal turned away by referee Rob Dowling at the death.

And their frustrations would mount as captain Pierce Phillips was dismissed for a second yellow card late on.

Man-of-the-match Kelly made one final save in injury time to secure all three points for Cabo – standing firm to deny the Rams who had raced through one on one with the ex-Longford keeper.

The result sees Cabo remain three points clear at the top of the First Division table ahead of their vital trip away to Longford Town on Monday evening at Bishopsgate.

Cabinteely: Michael Kelly; Daniel Blackbyrne, Christian Lotefa (Vilius Labutis 71), Kevin Knight, Paul Fox; Kieran Marty Waters, Dylan Thornton (Keith Dalton 46), Zak O’Neill, Eoin McPhillips (Mitchell Byrne 46), Alex Aspil; Shane Barnes.

Subs not used: Cian Kelly, Robert Dunne, Corey Chambers, Dean Casey.

Cobh Ramblers: Paul Hunt; Ben O’Riordan, Charlie Lyons, John Kavanagh, Darryl Walsh; Greg Henry (Cian Leonard 88), David Hurley, Cameron Harlson (Ian Turner 70), Lee Devitt Molloy (Conor Drinan 77); Darragh Crowley.

Subs not used: Stephen O’Leary, Conor Drinan, Martin Coughlan, Nathan Coleman, Sean Barron.

Referee: Robert Dowling