Croly's new-look Rovers fail to get off the mark
Shamrock Rovers' Sean O'Connor steals a march on Coleraine's Aaron Canning during last night's encounter at Tallaght Stadium. photograph: cathal noonan/inpho
Shamrock Rovers 0 Coleraine 1A David Scullion goal three minutes into time added on at the end of the first half was the difference between the sides at Tallaght Stadium last night, as Coleraine secured a precious away success in a highly competitive Setanta Sports Cup round one, first leg tie.
For Trevor Croly’s debut outing as Hoops manager, he chose a line-up that was recognisably different from the one that featured under Stephen Kenny and interim boss Brian Laws last season. Three of his starting 11 (goalkeeper Barry Murphy and midfielders James Chambers and Sean O’Connor) have been drafted in from south Dublin rivals St Patricks Athletic, while Jason McGuinness and Mark Quigley were recruited from league champions Sligo Rovers.
Coleraine, for their part, had former Derry City Ruairí Harkin star in a five-man midfield, but the Irish League club found themselves on the back-foot during the early exchanges, as a new-look Rovers side aimed to impress the always passionate home support.
However, despite enjoying a large amount of possession, Rovers were finding it difficult to get past a tight Coleraine rearguard, and the only opportunity they could muster in the opening quarter of an hour was a righted-footed drive by O’Connor, which drifted harmlessly past Michael Doherty’s left-hand post.
Rovers were hit with a sucker punch deep into stoppage time when substitute David Scullion (who replaced the injured Ruairí Harkin in the 41st minute) was found in space on the left-wing, and cut inside to chip the stranded Murphy, the ball going in off the underside of the crossbar.
In the second-half Coleraine became more of a threat on the counter-attack, and Scullion went close to repeating his feat from the first half when he was set free down the right flank, but his lobbed effort drifted over the posts on this occasion.
Rovers started to apply plenty of pressure, and O’Connor twice went close to cancelling Coleraine’s advantage with close-range free kicks in the 63rd and 70th minutes, with his first attempt being turned away spectacularly by the dependable Doherty.
Rovers were missing the presence of the now departed Gary Twigg in their attack, though, and were struggling to create clear-cut opportunities for all their possession. Indeed, Coleraine really should have stretched their with six minutes to go, but Stephen Lowry shot over on the half-volley following a superb cross by overlapping full-back Ryan McIlmoyle.
They were almost made to pay for this miss, but Rovers replacement Gary McCabe beautifully curled a 25-yard set-piece past the Coleraine wall, but the bottom of the post came to the rescue of the visitors, making it advantage Coleraine when they sides recommence in The Showgrounds in a week’s time.
SHAMROCK ROVERS:Murphy; Sullivan, McGuinness, Oman, Powell; Sheppard, Chambers (Robinson, 87), Rice, Finn, OConnor (Stewart, 87); Quigley (McCabe, 58). Subs not used: Winn, Kilduff, McCormack, Foran. COLERAINE: Doherty; Canning, Ogilby, Beverland, McIlmoyle; Bradley, Lowry, Harkin (Scullion, 41), Hegarty, Owens (Watt, 87); Jennings (Boyce, 76). Subs not used: McVey, Watt, McMullan, Tomelty, Shannon. Referee: P Tuite (Dublin).