A very late Aaron Greene goal was enough to give Shamrock Rovers all three points in an intense Dublin derby against Shelbourne in Tolka park on Friday night.
The winning goal came so late in the game, the 88th minute, it did not allow Shelbourne enough time to get an equaliser but in truth a victory for the Hoops was a fair reflection of the proceedings over the course of the 90 minutes.
Stephen Bradley’s side were utterly dominant in the first half, retaining possession at will, stroking the ball around and creating some great passages of play. The only surprising aspect of the opening 45 minutes was that Rovers were not further ahead, a single Andy Lyons goal being the only reward for their domination of play.
Shelbourne on the other hand seemed off the pace, their passing letting them down on numerous occasions and they only had a few forays into the opposition box in the whole of the first half.
The tone for the first half was set as early as then second minute. Rovers worked the ball to Richie Towell along the left wing, he was allowed to waltz into the Shelbourne penalty area before sliding the ball to the overlapping Andy Lyons who struck a crisp shot into the bottom corner of the net.
This was Lyons’s third goal in two games, not bad for a wing back, and he almost added to his tally in the 37th minute when put through again by Towell but this time his chipped effort was just wide.
Rovers’s keeper Alan Mannus was not tested in the first half such was the paucity of the Reds attack and no doubt Damian Duff and ex Shamrock Rovers man Joey O’ Brien had some stern words for the troops at the half time team talk.
Duff acted quickly early in the second half, introducing Shane Griffin and Dan Hawkins for Conor Kane and Jordan McEniff and they did come much more into the game as the second half progressed.
Their equaliser when it came was a good goal, resulting from a rare breakaway attack down the left wing with Kameron Ledwidge the instigator. He received a pass on the half way line and took it to the byline before crossing to the onrushing Shane Farrell who smashed it past Alan Mannus, game very much on at this stage.
The noise levels rose in the stadium as a result of that equaliser as Shels sensed some panic in the Rovers players and another late substitute Sean Boyd added to their momentum when he came on in the 77th minute.
Boyd was through on goal on two occasions, he slipped on the first occasion and was hauled down by Lee Grace on the second occasion, the Rovers man earning a yellow card for the foul.
It was the substitutions which Bradley made, however, that turned the game back in Rovers’ favour with two minutes of normal time remaining.
In the 88th minute Danny Mandroiu found Aaron Greene at the edge of the box and the latter showed great composure to rifle a shot past Brendan Clarke for the winner.
The win for Rovers enables them to keep pace with league leaders Derry City for whom manager Ruadhri Higgins was an interested spectator at the match last night.
Learning to deal with life in the top tier goes on for Shelbourne and they have another tough examination next weekend when they travel up north to take on the current league leaders at the Brandywell.
Shelbourne: Brendan Clarke; Luke Byrne, Aaron O’Driscoll, Kameron Ledwidge, Conor Kane (Shane Griffin 57); Mark Coyle, Aodh Dervin, JR Wilson; Jordan McEneff (Dan Hawkins 57), Shane Farrell (Stanley Anaebonam 83); Dan Carr (Sean Boyd 77).
Subs not used: Lewis Webb, Gavin Molloy, Gbemi Arubi, Jad Hakik, Kyle O’ Connor.
Booked: Aofh Dervin (62)
Shamrock Rovers: Alan Mannus, Sean Hoare, Sean Gannon, Lee Grace, Andy Lyons, Ronan Finn (Neil Farrugia 83), Richie Towell (Aaron Greene, 83) Gary O’Neil, Jack Byrne (Dylan Watts 72), Rory Gaffney; Graham Burke (Danny Mandroiu,76).
Subs not used: L Pohls, B Cotter, S Kavanagh, A Emakhu, Conor Noonan
Booked: Graham Burke (27), Lee Grace (79).
Referee: Damian McGrath
Extratime.com Player of the Match: Gary O’Neill (Shamrock Rovers)
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