League Report: Shamrock Rovers 2 - 2 Shelbourne
Shamrock Rovers and Shelbourne played out an entertaining 2-2 draw in Tallaght Stadium. The draw is the second between the sides in five weeks following a scoreless statlemate in Tolka Park in March.
The away side shaded what was a close first 15 minutes with Matty Smith and Jack Moylan both seeing efforts saved by the experienced Alan Mannus in the Hoops goal.
Moylan’s shot from outside the box and Smith’s tame header after he got free from a corner were no issue for the Rovers keeper.
Stephen Bradley’s side controlled possession for a stage thereafter and Neil Farrugia showed glimpses of what he can do. He picked the ball up in the 13th minute and went at the Shels rearguard before ultimately overrunning the ball and giving away a foul.
The deadlock was broken five minutes later as Rovers forward Graham Burke put the ball in his own net following a corner.
Shels played it short and Matty Smith put in what initially looked like an innocuous cross to the front post. Burke, sliced his clearance low past Mannus for the game's opening goal. The forward went with his preferred left foot when the angle possibly favoured a right footer.
Following the opener Rovers had the majority of possession but failed to trouble Conor Kearns for the rest of the first-half.
Stephen Bradley rang the changes at half-time with Richie Towell and Gary O’Neill coming on for Sean Kavanagh and Dylan Watts. Towell almost instantly levelled the game but saw his header go narrowly wide on 49 minutes.
As the home side pushed on for an equaliser, they were hit with a sucker punch on the break. Moylan expertly lifted the ball over the head of Hoare to start the counter attack, he then played in Smith who slotted the ball into the bottom corner.
The two-goal lead was short lived however, as Burke made up for his earlier mistake by curling a stunning strike into the top corner from 20 yards after expertly receiving the ball in the half turn from Jack Byrne.
Shels seemed to be coping well with Rovers pressure and looked compact from open play.
With 77 minutes on the clock Byrne was fouled as he tried to turn away from a Shels defender. The Ireland international placed the resulting free-kick onto the head of substitute Roberto Lopes who guided it past Kearns to level the game.
Rovers thought they had made it 3-2 on 84 minutes, after good interplay between Farrugia and Byrne- the former cut it back for Burke who saw his shot go narrowly wide.
Burke again went close as the game entered stoppage time. He received a pass from Lee Grace in the box but eventually shot into the side netting when some in the ground thought it went ins.
The Ireland internationals Byrne and Burke looked dangerous throughout for Rovers but Shels were rarely cut open and defended resolutely throughout while carrying a treat on the break. The Hoops were somewhat hampered by the exit of striker Rory Gaffney on 62 minutes.
A point sees Rovers go ahead of Derry – who play on Dundalk on Sunday - into third while the Reds stay fifth. Rovers travel to Inchicore to play St Patricks Athletic next Friday while Shelbourne host Dundalk.
Shamrock Rovers: Alan Mannus; Daniel Cleary (Roberto Lopes 67), Lee Grace, Sean Hoare; Graham Burke, Jack Byrne, Neil Farrugia, Sean Kavanagh (Richie Towell 46), Markus Poom, Dylan Watts (Gary O'Neill 46); Rory Gaffney (Johnny Kenny 62).
Subs not used: Tom Leitis, Darragh Nugent, Ronan Finn, Aaron Greene, Conan Noonan.
Booked: Graham Burke (55)
Shelbourne: Conor Kearns; Paddy Barrett, Shane Griffin, Andrew Quinn; Evan Caffrey, Shane Farrell, JJ Lunney, Brian McManus (Kameron Ledwidge 57), Jack Moylan (Kian Leavy 81), Tyreke Wilson; Matty Smith (Kyle Robinson 90)
Subs not used: Scott Van der Sluis, David Toure, Luke Byrne, Luke Browne, Jad Hakiki, Gbemi Arubi.
Booked: Kameron Ledwidge (64), Paddy Barrett (79), Tyreke Wilson (85)
Referee: Neil Doyle
extratime.com Player of the Match: Jack Byrne (Shamrock Rovers)