After the Tallaght pitch passed a late inspection, so did a new-look Shamrock Rovers team last night in recording their first win of the season against Bohemians.
Second-half goals from Brandon Miele and sub Michael O’Connor put the Hoops in command and not even a late response by the Gypsies from the spot through George Poynton would deny them.
In the wake of last week’s opening day defeat to the champions Dundalk, manager Stephen Bradley opted to shuffle his pack up front by deploying teenager Sean Boyd in place of O’Connor.
Even though marquee close-season capture Ronan Finn was the new face in the Rovers line-up, their midfield failed to impose their game on a Bohs side satisfied to sit back and operate on the counter-attack.
It was centre-back Daniel Devine who spurned an early chance for the hosts when his close-range header cleared the crossbar. His defensive comrade, left-full Trevor Clarke, was also to the fore amongst the few opportunities of the opening half, firstly earning a free-kick which Miele hit tamely at Shane Supple.
Then, nine minutes before the break, he surged from deep to latch onto Miele’s lay-off before drilling a low shot from an acute angle which fizzed just past the far post.
Rovers need not have worried about the lack of cutting for their opponents, hammered last week at home to Derry City, showed scant adventure in the final third.
Instead, the Hoops kept their patience after the break and the gaps began to flow in the Gypsies defence. Stephen Best, on as an interval sub, got a swift taste in the misery that was follow on 54 minutes when he skinned down the right by Sean Boyd, who darted to the end-line and picked out Darren Meenan. Though he failed to convert, along with his teammate Miele from the pinball that ensued, they didn’t have long to wait for the breakthrough.
Bohs looked well set up defensively as Simon Madden launched his 58th-minute cross from the right but Best allowed the ball glance off his foot into the path of Miele, who wrong-footed Derek Pender and rattled the net from 10 yards.
Rather than capitulating, the visitors reacted with vigour to going behind. Sub Dylan Casey’s deft flick from close-range almost deceived Tomer Chencinski but the Canadian goalkeeper was left static on 65 minutes when Ian Morris crashed his header off the post from Lorcan Fitzgerald’s corner.
Rovers weren’t long in extending their advantage through a wonderful, flowing move with 17 minutes left. Clarke fed James Doona in his own half and a pass down the left channel found Ryan Connolly, who drew Supple from his line and squared for the onrushing O’Connor to convert off the underside of the crossbar.
The sub nearly grabbed his second moments later with an audacious back-heel which Fitzgerald cleared off the line.
A dubious penalty award in the final minute against Devine for a shove on Best gave Poynton the chance to half the deficit by slotting away the penalty but their claims for another spot-kick in injury time, when the ball brushed off Robert Lopes’ arm, were waved away.
Chencinski; madden, Devine, Webster, Clarke; Finn, McAllister, Connolly (Lopes 75); Meenan, Miele (Doona 68); Boyd (O’Connor 67).
Supple; Pender, Byrne (Best 46), Cornwall, Fitzgerald; Gannon, Morris; Kavanagh, Poynton, Doyle (Simon 84); Corcoran (Casey 46).
Rob Harvey (Dublin)