St Patrick’s Athletic 0 Shamrock Rovers 0: The spoils were shared between St Patrick’s Athletic and Shamrock Rovers at Richmond Park last night.
After being washed out last Friday, this re-arranged fixture had everything needed to create a big splash: a Dublin derby, three points on offer, and the return of Keith Fahey. But it lacked clear-cut goalscoring opportunities.
With both teams set up in 4-1-4-1 formations there was little room to move in midfield and even forward runs between the lines were quickly shut down.
Whenever adventure did lead to some freedom there was a defender in close proximity. It was fascinating tactical battle where one false move could result in check-mate.
St Pat’s have long held a daring streak under manager Liam Buckley’s watch and that was evident in their forays into Rovers’ half. The only piece missing, though, was that final ball to either create or finish a chance.
Killian Brennan tried to do both on 20 minutes when he controlled a high ball and unloaded a volley at goal, but it rose so high that residents of the nearby apartments must have flinched.
The Saints continued to march forward with Conan Byrne also blasting a shot wide, but Rovers were not about to surrender. They roared back and Michael Drennan should have converted from inside the penalty area on 32 minutes.
Forget about bragging rights, the real prize up for grabs here was the chance to stay in the title race. It’s why Fahey was kicking himself after failing to head in a Simon Madden cross with the goal at his mercy.
The Republic of Ireland international went close again minutes later when he superbly took down a pass from Patrick Cregg, spun his marker, but fired wide. That was the last act of a fiery first half.
It was deja vu in the early part of the second period until a fine pass from Aaron Greene picked out Byrne at the back post and the winger drilled a low shot at Rovers goalkeeper Craig Hyland.
There was a noticeable absence of clincial finishing. A snap shot from Brandon Miele showed Rovers’ intent, while the hosts starved lone frontman Ciaran Kilduff of the service that he craved.
One goal would have truly elevated this game to another level, but both teams had to settle for a point – which isn’t a bad outcome but not ideal as Cork City picked up three points at Turner’s Cross.
St Pat’s now sit on 22 points ahead of Saturday’s trip to face Trevor Croly’s Bray Wanderers, while Rovers are one point further in front as they prepare to host Longford Town on Friday night.
The weekend’s games will shine the spotlight that bit brighter on their title credentials, but this night was simply about not slipping up and both were successful in that.
ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC:
O’Malley; Chambers, Hoare, Desmond, Bermingham; Bolger (McCormack 55); Byrne, Forrester (Verdon 80), Brennan, Greene; Kilduff.
Bolger 49, Brennan 87, Verdon 90+4.
Hyland; Madden, Kenna, Blanchard, Byrne; Cregg; Miele (North 79), Fahey, McPhail (R Brennan 50), G Brennan (Waters 72); Drennan.
David McKeon (Dublin).
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