Shamrock Rovers welcome fans if not top form back to Tallaght

Round-up: Waterford win in Dundalk for first time in 18 years; Derry earn late draw with Bohs

Shamrock Rovers fans during the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division match against Finn Harps at Tallaght Stadium. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Shamrock Rovers fans during the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division match against Finn Harps at Tallaght Stadium. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

 

Shamrock Rovers 1 Finn Harps 1

Tallaght Stadium may have welcomed the return of football fans, but Shamrock Rovers failed to provide a thousand of their faithful the spectacle of a win that would have put them back top of the table, overnight at least, as they laboured to this stalemate against a tenacious Finn Harps.

Though a start on the road back to normality under the Government’s trial events scheme, it was nonetheless a far cry from Rovers’ last home crowd on the raucous night of February 28th last year when 7,522 witnessed a rousing 3-2 win over Dundalk.

Though Harps started brightly, with Tunde Owolabi wasting a half-chance, a defensive howler gifted Rovers the lead on nine minutes.

Kosovar Sadiki dawdled in possession, allowing the alert Rory Gaffney to all too easily rustle the ball from him and cross to give the unmarked Aaron Greene a simple tap-in.

That signalled pretty much one-way traffic on the Harps goal for a sustained period. Danny Mandroiu flashed a free kick wide before some frantic defending from Ethan Boyle scrambled away the lively Gaffney’s cross as Max Murphy looked to get his shot away.

Harps lifted the siege, Karl O’Sullivan seeing his powerful drive bravely blocked by Chris McCann as Rovers didn’t fully clear Dave Webster’s long throw.

Adam Foley scores Finn Harps’ equaliser during the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division match at Tallaght Stadium. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho
Adam Foley scores Finn Harps’ equaliser during the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division match at Tallaght Stadium. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

At fault for Rovers’ lead, Sadiki showed far better defensive quality on 37 minutes to timely nick the ball off the toe of Greene as McCann and Gaffney worked him in on goal.

A minute later, Will Seymore had Rovers goalkeeper Alan Mannus scampering across his goal to gather a speculative, thumping shot from some 40 yards out as Harps continued to pose a threat.

And that intent was realised when the visitors levelled 10 minutes into the second half.

Barry McNamee was the architect with a sublime ball to put Adam Foley in behind on the right.

The striker was composure personified as he ran in from the angle to drill a shot through the legs of Mannus for his seventh goal of the season.

Sadiki, and later Shane McEleney, put their bodies on the line from Gaffney and Gary O’Neill shots as Rovers struggled to create clearcut openings as the frustration of the crowd grew.

With Mark McGinley saving well from Mandroiu’s drive and substitute Graham Burke blasting wide, the late winner they’ve secured on four previous occasions this season didn’t arrive for Rovers who had to settle for a point.

SHAMROCK ROVERS: Mannus; Grace, Hoare, Scales; O’Neill (Williams, 85 mins), McCann; Gannon, Mandroiu, Murphy (Burke, 61 mins); Gaffney, Greene.

FINN HARPS: McGinley; Boyle, McEleney, Sadiki, Webster; Coyle, Seymore; O’Sullivan, B McNamee (Connolly, 80 mins), Foley (Russell, 80 mins); Owolabi (Boyd, 79 mins).

Referee: Graham Kelly (Cork).

Dundalk 1 Waterford 3

Waterford lifted themselves off the foot of the table with a first win at Oriel Park in over 18 years against Dundalk.

Not since January 2003 had the Blues won at the Co Louth venue but a John Martin brace either side of a Shane Griffin strike brought that run to an end as new boss Marc Bircham picked up his first victory in front of new club owner Richard Forrest.

The victory – just their third of the season and their first in eight matches – sees them leapfrog Longford Town into ninth with Dundalk dropping to eighth after their sixth defeat in 15 matches – two more than they suffered when winning the 2019 title when two of their losses came after the league was in the bag.

Jim Magilton’s side had actually taken the lead on 31 minutes when Patrick Hoban slotted home from the penalty spot after Ole Erik Midtskogen had been fouled by Cameron Evans.

However, Martin would level a minute before the break when he slotted past Alessio Abibi after being slipped in behind the home defence.

The visitors then took the lead on 62 minutes. Referee John McLoughlin played a superb advantage after Sonni Nattestad had caught Prince Mutswanguma, with Darragh Power finding space on the right to square across to Griffin who slotted home from six yards out.

After Brian Murphy made a magnificent save to deny Patrick McEleney an equaliser, Martin then made sure of the win on 76 minutes when he slotted home from Jamie Mascoll’s cross.

DUNDALK: Abibi; Dummigan, Boyle, Nattestad, Adedokun; McEleney (Perez, 88 mins), Stanton, Sloggett (Murray, 72 mins), Duffy; Hoban, Midtskogen (Kelly, 65 mins).

WATERFORD: B Murphy; Power, Ferguson, Evans, Stafford, Mascoll; Mutswanguma (Molloy, 80 mins ), Griffin (Kavanagh, 85 mins), O’Keeffe, O’Reilly; J Martin.

Referee: John McLoughlin (Roscommon).

Derry City 1 Bohemians 1

Bohemians had victory snatched from their grasp four minutes into added time at the Brandywell, Keith Long’s youngsters preparing to celebrate an impressive win.

Having netted a goal in the 84th minute Derry responded with a sensational equaliser arriving in the 94th minute.

Bohs winger, Ali Coote, stunned the small 155 Derry supporters who were permitted to watch for the first time since February last year, when he drove the ball home from 18 yards.

Derry’s determination was rewarded deep into injury time when substitute Marc Walsh restored equality for the Candystripes when he squeezed the ball home from close range to spoil the Bohs party.

The Dubliners passed the ball so well on occasions but their failure to turn that possession into goals proved their downfall in the end.

Credit, however, must also go to the home side who failed to throw in the towel with Coote’s late strike and their determination was rewarded with what was a deserved share of the spoils.

That said, Ruaidhrí Higgins is still seeking a win on home soil, Derry still the only team not to record a home victory so far this season.

The electrifying pace of Ross Tierney and the physical presence of former Candystripe Georgie Kelly threatened the Derry defence at regular intervals.

And Kelly made his intentions known as early as the third minute when he flashed his opening effort wide of the Derry goal.

At the other end Derry’s Danny Lafferty was presented with a scoring chance in the 10th minute, but his attempted chip over Bohs goalkeeper James Talbot sailed over the crossbar.

Four minutes later the home side threatened again when full back Ronan Boyce diverted Will Patching’s curling free-kick over the bar from 16 yards.

The visitors went so close to catching Derry cold during the opening stages of the second half with a renewed determination.

Tierney raced forward before setting up Liam Burt and when he seemed destined to score, Derry’s Cameron McJanett skilfully scooped the ball off the goal-line much to the relief of the home side.

And Kelly threatened again within minutes but his shot on the turn failed to find the target.

Having weathered the storm, Derry began to press but they also struggled in the final third with Talbot rarely tested.

Bohemians had a superb chance in the 81st minute when Coote floated a free into the danger area and centre back Rory Feely failed to steer the ball home.

And that dramatic ending as Bohs gained their reward for their persistence in the 84th minute,, Coote driving the ball home from the edge of the penalty area with his right foot, giving Nathan Gartside no chance.

In the 90th minute Derry really should have equalised when a deep cross by Lafferty from the left saw Jack Malone meet the ball with a diving header but the substitute directed his effort straight at Talbot and a glorious chance was lost.

However, it was the home side who had the final say in the 94th minute when diminutive sub Walsh found himself in the right position at the right time to drive the ball home from close range, much to the delight of the small band of returning fans.

DERRY CITY: Gartside; Boyce, Toal, McJannet (Fitzgerald, 55 mins), Coll; Harkin, Thomson (Malone, 62 mins); Akintunde, Patching, Lafferty: Parkhouse (Walsh, 77 mins).

BOHEMIANS:Talbot; Lyons, C Kelly, Feely, Breslin; Coote, Devoy, Buckley, Burt; Tierney (Ward, 92 mins); G Kelly.

Referee: R Harvey (Dublin).

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