Macdara Ferris reports from Tallaght Stadium
The Hoops extended their league unbeaten run to 33 matches with a 1-1 draw with Derry City as they also extended their lead at the top of the table to six points. It is now a dozen league games since the Candystripes defeated the Hoops.
Rovers had to come from behind but didn’t have to do it late this time. Will Patching put the visitors 1-0 up on 49 minutes from the penalty spot with Rory Gaffney equalising seven minutes later.
The match kicked off with a fair bit of water splashing up off the Tallaght pitch – the venue had been subjected to 90 minutes of solid rain prior to kick-off but thankfully it cleared just before the start.
With no spectators allowed in the ground the closest one we had in the opening 45 minutes was Alan Mannus who had very little to do. James Akintunde and David Parkhouse did keep the Rovers back three in front of Mannus busy with their physical play and Parkhouse’s shot after a late first half error from Lee Grace was as close as they came to a goal. Although Patching’s free-kick that flew over the bar after a Ronan Finn foul on 24 minutes wasn’t too far away.
By that stage of the half the Rovers skipper have moved from his right wing back role into the centre after Dylan Watts went down injured with a muscle injury when there was on Derry player around him.
Nathan Gartside had to come and claim a number of Rovers crosses including one which he punched clear from a corner that Danny Mandroiu put under the crossbar.
Danny Lafferty on his return to play against Rovers tried to exploit space down the left and a couple of times his whipped crosses caused the Hoops some difficulty.
As is his habit Graham Burke was happy to try his luck from distance – especially having scored from half-way when the sides met earlier in the season in the Brandywell. He cleared one over the bar, forced Gartside to save another while a third clipped a Derry player to go behind for a corner.
Just before the break, the Hoops should have taken the lead when Gaffney got on the end of a sweeping Rovers move involving Mandroiu, Sean Gannon and Finn but he couldn’t beat Gartside.
Derry took an early second half lead from the penalty spot four minutes after the break. Rovers allowed Lafferty take a kick-out from Gartside and he played in Akintunde. Sean Hoare was caught on the wrong side and pulled him down, picking up a booking and giving a spotkick that Will Patching converted.
There was controversy about Rovers’ equaliser that came seven minutes later. Alan Mannus threw the ball quickly out to Liam Scales who exploited the space left after a fine long run from Eoin Toal. Scales tried to beat Joe Thomson but it went out for a throw. Scales ran on to take one of the spare balls teed up beside the pitch with a second ball lurking on the pitch with Finn flicking it out as Scales threw a ball to Gaffney from a position well advanced of where the ball went out of play. The Hoops striker held off Cameron McJannet to slot home with his right boot for his fourth of the season.
Will Fitzgerald brought some more urgency for the visitors when he replaced Parkhouse just after the hour mark.
Rovers pressed for the winner with Burke stinging Gartside’s palms with a shot from the edge of the area and moments later he came racing out to stop Gannon who was in on goal. Hoare went close with a header from a corner eight minutes from time.
A minute later ge picked up a second yellow card after a foul on Ciaron Harkin as Derry looked to break. The numbers were evened up on 90 minutes after Lafferty pulled back Burke as he looked to break and got his second yellow card.
Bradley brought on 17-year-old Aidomo Emakhu up front for his league debut but he couldn’t help the Hoops with the winner late one. The Hoops record now stands at 26 wins and seven draws from those 33 games.
Shamrock Rovers: Alan Mannus; Sean Hoare, Roberto Lopes, Lee Grace; Ronan Finn (c), Dylan Watts (Sean Gannon 23), Gary O'Neill, Liam Scales; Graham Burke, Rory Gaffney (Aidomo Emakhu 88), Daniel Mandroiu (Dean Williams 71).
Subs not used: Leon Pohls, Cole Omorehiomwan, Darragh Nugent, Conan Noonan, Max Murphy, Adam Wells.
Booked: Sean Hoare (48), Sean Hoare (83).
Sent off: Sean Hoare (83).
Derry City: Nathan Gartside; Eoin Toal (c), Cameron McJannet, Ciaran Coll; Ronan Boyce, Aaron Harkin, Will Patching, Joe Thomson (Darren Cole 72), Daniel Lafferty; James Akintunde (Marc Walsh 77), David Parkhouse (William Fitzgerald 65).
Subs not used: Jack Lemoignan, Patrick Ferry, Brendan Barr, Danny Lupano, Mark McChrystal, Caolan McLaughlin.
Booked: Daniel Lafferty (81) ,Nathan Gartside (84) Daniel Lafferty (90).
Sent off: Daniel Lafferty (90).