Late Aidomo Emakhu strike earns Shamrock Rovers a win to cap great week for Irish clubs

With the fourth official signalling six extra of stoppage time, the 17-year-old needed just one to slam his shot into the roof of the net
Late Aidomo Emakhu strike earns Shamrock Rovers a win to cap great week for Irish clubs

Shamrock Rovers' Aidomo Emakhu celebrates after scoring his sides' injury-time winner against KF Teuta in the Europa Conference League. Picture: INPHO/Tommy Dickson

Shamrock Rovers 1 (Aidomo Emakhu 90+1) KF Teuta 0

Teenager Aidomo Emakhu sealed a stellar week for League of Ireland clubs in Europe by coming off the bench to give Shamrock Rovers a first-leg advantage in the Europa Conference League.

With the fourth official signalling six extra of stoppage time, the 17-year-old needed just one to slam his shot into the roof of the net following a pullback from the right by Danny Mandriou.

After Bohemians slayed PAOK on Tuesday and Dundalk were more than worthy of their 2-2 draw in Vitesse, the pressure was on Rovers to complete a trio of results for Ireland’s international representatives.

That they were facing a club far weaker in stature, the Albanian champions, only added to the sense of expectancy within the crowd of 1,500.

Teuta’s previous two first legs, against Sheriff Tiraspol in the Champions League and Europa Conference opponents Inter Club d’Escaldes, ended in 4-0 and 2-0 defeats.

That may have explained their cautious approach to this outing, packing the defence and slowing the play down whenever possible, through whatever dark art means available.

The only surprise was that it took until 16 minutes from the end for one of the visitors, Brazilian Jackson, to incur a booking for time-wasting.

Their captain, Albanian international Renato Arapi, led the tactical approach from centre-back, keeping Rovers’ lone striker Rory Gaffney well-marshalled and with his back to goal for most of the opening half.

Bradley stuck with the starting team that swept aside the main challengers to their, St Patrick’s Athletic, last Friday but against a side clearly intent on sitting back, Gaffney cut an isolated figure up top.

The Shamrock Rovers boss is a deep thinker and wedded to his footballing principles, traits the 36-year-old is gaining admiration for here and abroad.

English League One outfit MK Dons are the latest to pay attention, with Bradley understood to be on a shortlist of candidates to replace Russell Martin, who was this week lured to Swansea City.

It will take a superior project, too, for Bradley to be tempted away from his first managerial job.

That’s the position Liam Scales finds himself as well, as the defender’s move to Celtic inches closer.

Before he switches to another green-and-white hooped jersey, though, he wants to leave a parting gift over and above the €600,000 transfer fee incoming.

Scales almost supplied it from the first sight on goal Rovers conjured on 17 minutes. The craft of Dylan Watts from set-pieces has proven a vital weapon in the last two years of the Bradley era and his corner pinpoint corner allowed the towering wing-back to rise above his marker but nod just over.

Gaffney then wriggled free to glance his header wide from a Watts free-kick while Mandriou tested Stivi Frasheri in the guests’ goal for the first time with a wicked shot from distance on the stroke of half-time.

His counterpart at the opposite end, Alan Mannus, was a relative spectator for Rovers, though was thankful for a block by Roberto Lopes when Tauljant Sulejmanov was afforded space in the box to swivel and shoot on 36 minutes.

That was the solitary deviation from Teuta’s default position of keeping men behind the ball.

It places the onus on Rovers to penetrate and they were only marginally better at the task after the break.

From another Watts flag-kick on 50 minutes, Lee Grace soared in the air at the back post, only to have his bullet header denied by Frasheri.

Towell sent his 20-yard volley just past the hour as Rovers upped the tempo but the unmarked Gaffney couldn’t connect with a right-wing cross in another let-off for Teuta.

Bradley threw on Ireland international Graham Burke for the last 20 minutes but it was a rookie, on just his third substitute appearance, who sealed the win.

SHAMROCK ROVERS: A Mannus; J O’Brien (S Kavanagh 69), R Lopes, L Grace; R Finn (S Gannon 83), D Watts, G O’Neill (G Burke 69), D Mandriou, L Scales; R Towell (A Greene 77); R Gaffney (A Emakhu 84).

KF TEUTA: S Frasheri; B Todorovski, H Dragarski, B Kotobelli; A Daja (S Plaku 88), E Karabeci; E Villa, S Kallaku (I Gruda 68), Jackson; T Sulejmanov (P Georgiev 68).

Referee: Kai Erik Steen (NOR)

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