Occean brace for Odds Ballklub sinks outclassed Shamrock Rovers

Shamrock Rovers 0 Odds Ballklub 2

Occean brace for Odds Ballklub sinks outclassed Shamrock Rovers

Rovers’ international trio of Keith Fahey, Stephen McPhail and, of course, latest star acquisition Damien Duff were all reduced by injury to the role of onlookers at the game, a significant blow to the Hoops’ aspirations of putting it up to a Norwegian side with its own five-strong helping of internationals firmly on board.

As relentless as the black clouds which came scudding in off the Dublin mountains to dump teeming rain on the pitch, the red-shirted Odds got numbers forward at every opportunity, living up to Pat Fenlon’s billing of the opposition as a side who would not be content to sit back away from home.

And with the onus on Rovers, playing a 4-2-3-1 formation, to seize the initiative in the first leg, the competing ambitions made for anything but a cagey European encounter.

Still, it took all of 16 minutes for the game’s first attempt on goal, if such it could be called, with the otherwise impressive Jone Samuelsen getting badly under the ball from a promising knock-back to balloon his shot high over Craig Hyland’s crossbar.

And another nine minutes elapsed before Rovers mustered a direct response, Gary McCabe keeping his long distance effort down but not generating enough power or swerve to trouble Sondre Lovseth Rossbach in the Odds goal.

With the game evenly balanced but lacking in goal chances at the break, Rovers sought to get on the front foot right from the restart, a goal-bound Drennan goal shot denied by a fine diving save by Rossbach.

But it all began to go wrong for the home side in the 53st minute when Fredrik Nordkvelle theatrically went down under a Conor Kenna challenge in the box, the Rovers captain in a state of disbelief that the Swiss referee had awarded the penalty.

Unconcerned, Olivier Occean completed the punishment by stepping up to calmly send Hyland the wrong way from the spot.

Minutes later, Odds keeper Rossback almost gifted Rovers a way back into the game when he allowed a speculative Drennan effort to squirm under his body and had to scramble to smother the ball right on his goal line.

But any hopes of a Rovers’ comeback were dashed in the 67th minute, the Norwegians doubling their lead and Occean grabbing his second of the night, when the tall striker rose to head a Chukwuma Akabueze corner in off the underside of the crossbar.

Game over and, in all probability, tie over too.

* James Tomkins’ scrappy goal in the 90th minute saved West Ham’s blushes with a 1-0 win over Birkirkara in the Europa League second qualifying round first leg clash at Upton Park.

Shamrock Rovers: Hyland, Madden, Kenna, Webster, Byrne, R Brennan (Kavanagh 85) Cregg, McCabe, G Brennan (North 79), Waters (Miele 67), Drennan.

Odds Ballklub: Rossbach, Rudd, Gashi, Halvorsen, Samuelsen, Akabueze (Storbaek 81), Nordkvelle, Jonassen, Hagen, Eriksen, Occean (Bergan 84).

Referee: Alain Bieri (Switzerland)

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