Ronan MacNamara reports from the UCD Bowl.
Sam Todd’s last minute header saw UCD come from 2-0 down in the second half to rescue a draw in a pulsating friendly at UCD Bowl.
Shamrock Rovers named a strong starting XI, including Aaron Greene, Dylan Watts and Sean Kavanagh who came off the bench in Rovers’ Premier Division opener against St Pats last night.
The students started the game brightly winning a free kick inside the first minute. Evan Weir’s shot from 25 yards out was straight at Leon Pohls. Rovers struggled to keep possession early on under pressure from the UCD high press.
The first chance of the game fell Aaron Greene’s way in the seventh minute, he made a darting run to the near post to meet Watt’s corner but could only glance wide.
Six minutes later Greene rose highest again to give Shamrock Rovers the lead with a powerful header after Max Murphy crossed from the right. A goal very similar to the night before.
The goal was harsh on the students who had enjoyed the lion’s share of possession but they struggled to create any clear cut chances.
Rovers should have doubled their advantage after 48 minutes. Watts, who was at the heart of everything, whipped in a corner which was met by the impressive Cole Omorehiomwan, the ball fell to Williams inside the 6-yard box but his shot was smothered by Lorcan Healy.
Williams however, would get the goal his performance deserved on 55 minutes. Darragh Nugent clipped a ball over the top and Williams picked it up in the inside left position, drove forward and slotted the ball across the goalkeeper into the far right corner.
UCD almost replied instantly, Kerrigans free kick was met at the back post by Todd but he couldn’t guide his volley on target.
The students got back in the game courtesy of a rocket from Evan Weir. Mark Dignam picked up possession on the left of the box and his cut back was met by Weir who let fly with his left foot, finding the top left corner from the edge of the box.
Rovers made a triple change, changing the formation to 3-4-3. Aidomo Emakhu almost made an immediate impact off the bench. He broke free down the left hand side but dragged his shot across goal.
UCD made substitutions and Donal Higgins made an impact. His 23 yard curler from left of the penalty area was straight at Leon Pohls.
The final 15 minutes were end to end as both sides went chasing a goal.
Rovers kept pushing for the third goal. Max Williams was a constant threat all game and his pull back from the by line was superbly cleared by Sam Todd from six yards out.
UCD threw caution to the wind for the final ten minutes. Lorcan Healy played a 60 yard pass to set substitute Behan in behind the Rovers back three. Behan turned down the chance to shoot from the edge of the box and his ball across failed to find a teammate.
The students would not be denied however, UCD won a free kick midway in the Rovers half. Doyle curled a left footed cross into the area, the ball was headed up and Pohls couldn’t claim the high ball. The ball fell fortunately for Sam Todd who nodded home from close range in what proved to be the last kick of the game.
Overall, UCD will be happy with their second half comeback. Rovers’ control of the game faded once Greene, Watts and Kavanagh came off but it was a thrilling second half.
UCD: Lorcan Healy; Michael Gallagher (Isaac Akinsete 81), Evan Farrell (Luke Boore 66), Sam Todd, Evan Weir (Ciaran Behan 81); Paul Doyle, Mark Dignam (Donal Higgins 66), Sean Brennan (Eoin Farrell 66), Jack Keaney, Liam Kerrigan; Colm Whelan (Adam Lennon 76).
Subs not used: Dara Keane, Michael McHugh, Harvey O'Brien, Matthew Scott, Carl Williams.
Shamrock Rovers: Leon Pohls; Sean Kavanagh (Aidomo Emakhu), Cole Omorehiomwan, Adam Wells; Dean McMenamy, Max Murphy, Darragh Nugent, Gary O'Neill, Dylan Watts (John Ryan 60); Aaron Greene (Conan Noonan 60), Dean Williams.
Subs not used: Alex Moody.
Referee: Robert Harvey
ExtraTime.ie Player of the Match: Dylan Watts (Shamrock Rovers)
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