Shamrock Rovers 2-2 Dundalk
Second-half goals from Alex Williams and Liam Burns earned Dundalk an unlikely 2-2 draw with Shamrock Rovers at Tallaght Stadium on Saturday night as the Lilywhites secured their first point against a Dublin club this year. Rovers looked well in control when Gary Twigg added to Stephen Rice’s opener just past the half-hour. However, just like they did a fortnight earlier in Sligo, Sean Connor’s men showed great battling qualities to rescue a valuable result.
Dundalk went into the game with a badly depleted squad as they were without regular starters Chris Turner, Michael Daly, Ger Rowe, Peter Cherrie and Simon Kelly, while Michael Collins was a late withdrawal through injury after being named on the team-sheet. Despite that, though, the visitors started brightly and they should have been ahead early on when Michael McGowan’s pass was misjudged by Rovers centre-half Darragh Maguire which allowed Williams to race through on goal. However, the Scottish striker was denied well by debutant ‘keeper Alan Mannus.
And it was a miss that the home side soon capitalised on as they hit the front just past the midway point of the half. Dessie Baker slipped a harmless ball through the Dundalk defence which was heading straight to Chris Bennion only for left-back Kevin McKinlay to stick out a boot and divert it into the path of Stephen Rice, who rolled the ball home from eight-yards. Baker was again in the thick of the action when Michael O’Neill’s troops doubled their lead on 31 minutes as his pass set Twigg free, and the former Brechin City forward made no mistake wit the finish as he delicately chipped the ball over his advancing countryman.
Against the run of play, Darren Mansaram almost gave Dundalk a way back into the game before the break, but his rasping drive from 25-yards was brilliantly pushed around the post by Mannus. It wasn’t against the flow of the game that the Lilywhites earned a lifeline, though, as after dominating after the resumption, they grabbed a deserved goal on 67 minutes. The impressive McGowan delivered a wicked in-swinging cross and Williams was on hand to volley home. Rovers looked void of ideas and it appeared only a matter of time before the visitors would equalise, and so it proved as Burns headed in a precious leveller just four minutes from the end.
SHAMROCK ROVERS (4-4-2): Alan Mannus; Pat Sullivan, Darragh Maguire, Craig Sives, Ollie Cahill; Paddy Kavanagh (Tadhg Purcell 54), Stephen Bradley (Ross Chisholm 70), Stephen Rice, Sean O’Connor; Gary Twigg, Dessie Baker (Don Cowan 86).
DUNDALK (4-4-2): Chris Bennion; Shaun Kelly, Liam Burns, Michael Coburn, Kevin McKinley; Tiarnán Mulvenna (Michael McGinlay 60), Thomas Heary, Paul McAreavey, Michael McGowan; Darren Mansaram, Alex Williams.
Referee: Anthony Buttimer (Cork).