Killian Brennan penalty seals St Patrick’s win over Rovers
Second league win in five days puts St Patrick’s back in the title race
Ian Bermingham of St Patrick’s Athletic collides with Shamrock Rovers’ Gary McCabe during their Premier League encounter at Richmond Park last night. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho
St Patrick's Athletic 1 Shamrock Rovers 0
This was a game that, for all the pleasing football, needed some spark and it was a controversial penalty just before the break that settled the contest and gave St Patrick’s Athletic their second league win in five days.
Killian Brennan’s spot-kick after Luke Byrne was penalised for fouling Conan Byrne was enough for the Saints to claim their second home league win of the season and cut the gap to their Dublin rivals to one point.
There was the added attraction for the Richmond Park crowd in seeing former Irish internationals Stephen McPhail and Keith Fahey line up against each other as both managers went with 4-2-3-1 formations.
While McPhail showed the calm touch Shamrock Rovers’ fans would have expected, he also revealed the cruder side of his game, first taking out Fahey and then perhaps being lucky to see just yellow for a boot to the face of Greg Bolger who had to go off and was taken to hospital with a suspected jaw fracture. The former Leeds United midfielder displayed his more elegant side on 24 minutes when he delivered a free-kick from which Conor Kenna could only find the side netting.
The defending champions went closest to taking the lead eight minutes later but Fahey saw his free-kick clip the top of the crossbar with Barry Murphy beaten. The game roared into life just before the break. Christy Fagan found Byrne in the box and with the winger about to shoot, his namesake looked to have executed a perfectly timed tackle. However, referee David McKeon awarded a penalty and further infuriated the away support by flashing a red card at the full back. After Ciarán Kilduff had also been booked for protesting, Brennan sent Murphy the wrong way from the spot.
St Patrick’s went close to doubling the lead when Murphy was forced to save twice from Byrne. Fahey was dictating the pace of the game and he fired a couple of long-range efforts off-target. Chris Forrester tested Murphy again as Rovers dropped increasingly deeper. Their best chance of an equaliser came with 20 minutes left but McCabe could only fire straight at Brendan Clarke. There was only final moment of panic for the home side as Rovers pressed late on but St Patrick’s held out to put themselves back in the title race.