Dinny Corcoran strikes as Bohs get the better of Rovers again
Red card for Aaron Greene gave hosts an advantage before second-half penalty won it
Bohemians’ Dinny Corcoran celebrates scoring the only goal during their Airtricity League win over Shamrock Rovers. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
Bohemians 1 Shamrock Rovers 0
The spirit with which they pursued an equaliser towards the end was about the most positive aspect of this – their first trip of the season to Dalymount Park – for Shamrock Rovers. Down to 10 men for most of the match, they could not be accused of a lack of spirit but that does not change the fact that Dinny Corcoran’s second-half penalty was enough to decide another dramatic derby game in the home side’s favour and maintain Bohemians’ recent run of positive results in these encounters.
Had Alan Mannus converted his header after coming up for a corner in the dying second the atmosphere would have been rather different as the stadium emptied. As it was, the fact that their team had had to dig in and hang on through the last few minutes might well have made the victory feel that little bit sweeter for Gypsies.
After a positive start to the new campaign, it was clearly a setback for Rovers. When they lost the corresponding match to this last season they led for almost half an hour before crashing to defeat over the course of 11 late second-half minutes. This time, the problems started much sooner.
Three days after a decent win over Derry, Stephen Bradley freshened up the line-up and tweaked the tactics with Greg Bolger, Trevor Clarke and Joey O’Brien all starting while Aaron McEneff and Dylan Watts were nudged forward into slightly more advanced roles in central midfield.
Through the earliest stages, it all seemed to pay off well enough with the visitors starting on the front foot but things slipped as their opponents got to grips with things in the heart of a frantic game.
It was tight and, at times, tough stuff with the encounter between Trevor Clarke and Luke Wade-Slater drawing roars of approval from two sets of fans who like a player who knows the meaning of a derby game.
It’s often a fine line, though, between commitment and overzealousness, one that Aaron Greene managed to cross 30 minutes in with a challenge on Ward that earned him a straight red card. Minus his striker, Bradley had to start meddling again and Jack Byrne was the midfielder initially asked to try his luck up front.
It didn’t start too promisingly and the manager was then forced into a substitution within a few minutes when Ethan Boyle, clearly struggling for a while by then with what looked like a hamstring problem, gave up the ghost and had to be replaced. Byrne disappeared at the break and Dylan Watts made way for Ronan Finn on the hour. Bohemians dominated their rivals amid the chaos but still missed the only real chance they created before Finn’s arrival when Wade-Slater headed a cracking Ward cross wide.
Somehow, it seemed, it might all end up being a qualified success for the visitors. Salvaging even a draw out of all this would surely have felt like . . . well, a result at the final whistle, the problem being that that was still some way off.
Through the opening hour, Corcoran had repeatedly displayed a lot of confidence that he could run Rovers’ two central defenders and somehow emerge the other side of them but Lee Grace and O’Brien had the measure of him on each occasion.
But the reshuffle that followed Boyle’s departure entailed a move to right back for O’Brien. The 33-year-old had previously played there for Ireland but looked vulnerable here with Ward running at him and when the winger got around the former West Ham star, an arm across the Bohemians player’s back was enough to prompt a tumble and spot kick.
Corcoran stepped up to slot it away low to Mannus’s left.
It might have been two not long after with Ward taking a similar route towards goal only for Roberto Lopes to this time block his way. The winger’s first shot was straight at the defender and while the home crowd called for what would have been a ridiculous handball, the follow up was blasted over.
Bohemians should not still have been in a meaningful contest by this point but they were and they lived a little dangerously at the back through the closing stages as Rovers pressed and the hosts occasionally lacked the composure required to absorb the pressure then break. In the end, though, they had enough about them to hang on for a result that sends them two points clear at the top of the table.
On a night like this, that was only ever a secondary consideration.
Bohemians: Talbot; Pender, Cornwall, Finnerty (Barry, 76 mins), Leahy (Kirk, 64 mins); Buckley, Levingston; Wade-Slater, Mandriou, Ward (Reghba, 81 mins); Corcoran.
Shamrock Rovers: Mannus; Boyle (Lopes, 37 mins), O’Brien, Grace, Kavanagh; Bolger; Byrne (Carr, half-time), McEneff, Watts (Finn, 60 mins), Clarke; Greene.
Referee: R Harvey (Dublin).