A FORTUITOUS 42nd-minute goal from Karl Sheppard helped Shamrock Rovers account for Dublin rivals Bohemians at Tallaght Stadium last night.
The win will come as a welcome relief to Rovers manager Michael O’Neill following his side’s disappointing performance against Bray Wanderers last Thursday, although they experienced a few scares before claiming the points.
A yellow card apiece to Bohemians’ Glen Cronin and Rovers’ Chris Turner was the sum level of incident in a soporific opening 30 minutes where both sides were incapable of keeping possession for any length of time.
The game spluttered into life on 31 minutes when Stephen O’Donnell’s short corner was transferred to Ronan Finn, whose intended cross for Gary Twigg was bravely intercepted by Liam Burns.
Within three minutes, Anto Flood, operating out of position on the right of midfield, slipped inside Enda Stevens but his cross-shot had too much pace for the in-rushing Christy Fagan, who failed to make contact.
The league leaders began to show a greater degree of fluency as the half progressed, with Bohemians ceding territory far too readily, and the increasing pressure eventually told in the three minutes before the break as Sheppard was on hand to divert Gary McCabe’s inviting cross past a badly exposed Chris O’Connor.
The visitors were visibly rocked by the goal and were fortunate not to concede again immediatley, with both Ken Oman and Ronan Finn going close.
The second-half was just seven minutes old when matters deteriorated for Bohemians as Price was shown a straight red card, dragging back Twigg on the edge of the box as the centre-forward raced clear onto Chris Turner’s through ball.
Rovers were almost caught out in the 62nd minute, however, when a fine move involving Stephen Traynor and Robert Bayly set Fagan through on goal but the attacker’s attempt to round Alan Mannus was easily read by the experienced keeper, who gathered comfortably.
Despite their numerical advantage, Rovers struggled to create any opportunities of note as Bohemians began playing with a greater sense of freedom, as reflected in Bayly warming Mannus’ hands from 20 yards.
However, the visitors’ challenge gradually dissipated and both Craig Sives and substitute Billy Dennehy went close to giving Rovers an even greater degree of comfort late on.
SHAMROCK ROVERS: Mannus; Sullivan, Oman, Sives, Stephens; Sheppard (Dennehy 74), O’Donnell (O’Neill 68), Turner (McCormack, 85), Finn, McCabe; Twigg.
BOHEMIANS: O’Connor; Heary, Burns (Feely 87), Price, O’Brien; Flood (Dixon 82), Cronin, Bayly (Buckley 82), Brennan; Traynor, Fagan.
Referee: A Kelly (Cork).