Shamrock Rovers 3 Bohemians 1: Building on their encouraging display in Finland last week, despite their Europa League exit, Stephen Bradley got the sweetest of first wins as interim Shamrock Rovers manager from an engrossing Dublin derby at Tallaght Stadium.
Adding to their 4-0 win in Phibsboro in April, this was a welcome first league win for Rovers over their arch-rivals in Tallaght in over four years.
The result was perhaps tough on in-form Bohemians who, playing with 10 men for over 70 minutes, contributed hugely to an intriguing match.
The action began early as Rovers’ energetic start resulted in their being awarded a third minute penalty. Dan Byrne clumsily tripped Simon Madden in the area and, after a slight delay, referee Paul McLaughlin pointed to the spot.
Bohemians’ angst at the concession was promptly replaced by delight as Dean Delany dived low to his right to push Brandon Miele’s spot kick against the post and to safety.
The visitors soon appeared to have settled into the game, with Kurtis Byrne finding the range, if not the direction, of Craig Hyland’s goal to register their first opening, before they were again left questioning official McLaughlin on 19 minutes as they were reduced to ten men.
Replays proved they could have no complaints, though, as midfielder Keith Buckley went in with his studs, catching Gavin Brennan, and was rightly shown a straight red card.
Remarkably, Bohemians then stole the lead four minutes later. It was route one stuff as Delany’s clearance ran through for winger Kurtis Byrne who, with Hyland a little too far off his line, lobbed the stranded keeper to find the corner of the net.
The lead lasted just eight minutes as Madden got forward to find 17-year-old Aaron Dobbs, making his full league debut, in the area to fashion Rovers’ equaliser.
Though the youngster’s initial shot was blocked by the feet of Delany, he showed admirable composure to pick out Dean Clarke at the back post with the loose ball for the unattended winger to sidefoot home. Further poor defending then cost Bohemians a second goal on 35 minutes. Madden’s deep cross from the right was headed down by Clarke and Shaw nipped in before either Derek Pendergast or Delany could react to poke home his third goal in four league games.
Remarkably, a compelling half ended with Bohemians almost levelling in added time.
Shaw’s attempted headed clearance from Kurtis Byrne’s free kick inadvertently fell for Roberto Lopes who contrived to somehow blast a volley off the underside of the crossbar.
Rovers enjoyed good possession from the restart without threatening before Bohemians came close again on 62 minutes.
The power and pace of Akinade brought a cross in from the right. Kurtis Byrne, stretching, toed over the top.
That ignited the second-half, but it was Rovers who soon asserted their numerical advantage to win the game with a delightful third goal on 70 minutes.
Substitute Sean Boyd collected Clarke’s ball in from the left to work a one-two with Shaw before volleying past Delany at his near post.
A superbly taken first league goal for the club was tarnished somewhat by the 18-year-old then being booked for celebrating in front of the Bohemians fans who rained plastic bottles onto the pitch.
Hyland; Madden, Cornwall, Heaney, G. Brennan; Miele, Cregg, K. Brennan, D. Clarke (T. Clarke, 74); Dobbs (Boyd, 65), Shaw (McPhail, 81).
Delany; Hayes, Prendergast (Morris, 77), Mulcahy, Pender; D. Byrne; Kelly (Ben Mohamed, 69), Buckley, Lopes, K. Byrne; Akinade (Quigley, 66).
Paul McLaughlin (Donegal).
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