Hoops close gap on Sligo

Champions Shamrock Rovers moved into third place in the Airtricity Premier Division and are now just four points behind leaders Sligo Rovers with a fully deserved victory over bottom-of-the-table UCD at the Belfield Bowl last night.

The Hoops had a perfect start when College defender Daniel Ledwith needlessly gave the ball away on six minutes. Former UCD midfielder Ronan Finn was then able to supply the ball to striker Gary Twigg to fire home left-footed off the upright from 12 yards for his 15th league goal of the season.

Gary McCabe then went close to stretching Rovers’ lead, when clipping a shot just wide after a clever backheel by Twigg.

The Students almost equalised on 23 minutes when David McMillan found the unmarked Chris Lyons, only for keeper Oscar Jansson to dive at the striker’s feet and push the ball away to safety.

After Colin Hawkins had fouled McMillan at the edge of the box, the resulting free by Daniel Ledwith was comfortably saved by Jansson. Then another McMillan effort flew wide of the upright.

Rovers were dominant for long periods and might have had a second goal three minutes prior to the interval when Twigg headed the ball down to Gary McCabe on the left only for his dangerous low cross to be hooked wide of the target from close range by Finn.

Killian Brennan who had come on as a substitute for the injured Chris Turner on the half hour, was widely off target with a long-range effort early in the second half.

The Hoops wasted another chance after a great run down the left by McCabe to set up Daryl Kavanagh, only for the striker to shoot wide when well placed.

McCabe always dangerous on the left, then set up a chance for Brennan only to see his effort blocked away for a corner. Substitute Thomas Stewart, back for his second spell with Rovers after his move from Partick Thistle, had a header wide of target from an unmarked position, after a Kavanagh cross from the left.

It was all one-way traffic in the direction of the College goal. After a foul by defender Hugh Douglas on McCabe, the resulting free by Brennan was brilliantly pushed away by keeper Mark McGinley.

All that pressure was bound to tell and Rovers scored a deserved second goal on 69 minutes when after McMillan had lost the ball, they went on the counter-attack.

Finn created the opening for McCabe, who was able to run at the retreating College defence and fire into the corner of the net from 22 yards giving McGinley no chance.

Stewart had a glancing header wide of the target late on after a superlative cross on the right by the always dangerous Finn.

UCD: McGinley; Douglas, J. Kavanagh, Leahy, Ledwith; McNelis (Russell 60), Corry, O’Conor, McMillan; Benson (Burke 78), Lyons (Clarke 71).

SHAMROCK ROVERS: Jansson; Sullivan (Gilbrert 79), Hawkins, Sives, Powell; D.Kavanagh (Stewart 55), Finn, Turner (Brennan 30), Rice, McCabe; Twigg.

Referee: Neil Doyle (Dublin).

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