Shamrock Rovers 3-1 Dundalk
Late goals from Gary Twigg and Dessie Baker saw Shamrock Rovers snatch an unlikely 3-1 win as they overcame Dundalk, who were suffering their third straight league defeat, at Tallaght Stadium on Tuesday night. Twigg had given the hosts a first-half lead but that was cancelled out midway through the second period when Michael Daly fired in his first club goal for the visitors. However, Dundalk, despite pressurising Rovers in search of a winner, were undone in the final three minutes of the game as firstly Twigg headed in off the crossbar before Baker made the points safe with a neat finish over Chris Bennion in injury time.
Dundalk started with the same side that lined out in the 2-0 defeat by Sligo Rovers four days earlier but manager Sean Connor was forced to include John Smyth and Sean Mackle on the bench as Declan O’Brien was injured and Harpal Singh departed at the weekend due to his upcoming wedding. A quiet opening saw Rovers threaten at times to break the Dundalk offside trap, however, with Bennion untested it was the visitors who should have taken the lead midway through the half. Chris Turner, after a quick break forward, played Shaun Kelly through and the youngster’s shot went under the ‘keeper only to hit the outside of the post and go wide.
Rovers replied almost immediately with a chance of their own as Sean O’Connor cut inside for the left side of the box and fired goalwards, a shot which Bennion did well to hold. Not long after, though, the home side had the lead and it came through Scottish sensation Twigg who grabbed his twelfth goal of the season. Centre-half Aidan Price launched another high ball over the Dundalk defence and this time the tactic worked as Twigg latched on to it and finished expertly with a delicate chip over the lone Bennion. Rovers almost doubled their advantage shortly after when Padraig Amond burst down the right and whipped in a cross which Simon Kelly diverted just inches past his own post.
Dundalk were forced into a change early in the second half as Michael Synnott was replaced by Michael Coburn for the second game in a row and it was the visitors who took the initiative as they pushed forward in search of an equaliser. Chances were rare, though, before Rovers, against the run of play, went close to making it 2-0 just past the hour mark. Stephen Bradley’s exquisite through ball set Twigg free, however, this time he was denied by a fine Bennion block as the Scottish ‘keeper stopped a low effort with his leg. And that miss proved costly moments later when Dundalk grabbed a leveller just before the midway point of the half. Mansaram broke in on the left of the box and fired a low delivery across the face of goal which left Daly with the easiest of tasks.
Soon after, Shane Robinson whizzed a 30-yard effort just wide of goal as Rovers looked to re-establish their lead before Ger Rowe broke through at the other end only to flash a shot narrowly off target. Dundalk went even closer with seven minutes remaining as Mansaram chased down a ball over the top and challenged ‘keeper Robert Duggan, winning the duel and then firing the loose ball goalwards only to see Price head off the line as the Lilywhites chased a winner deep in the game. Totally against the run of play, however, Rovers found the priceless deadlock breaker with three minutes left on the clock as a long Stephen Rice throw-in was flicked on and Twigg rose highest to send the ball over Bennion and in off the underside of the crossbar. Dessie Baker then added a late insurance goal as he chased yet another ball over the top and finished well over his old team-mate.
SHAMROCK ROVERS FC (4-4-2): Robert Duggan; Corie Treacy, Darragh Maguire, Aidan Price, Ian Bermingham; Stephen Bradley (Tadhg Purcell 84), Stephen Rice, Shane Robinson, Sean O’Connor (Ollie Cahill 71); Gary Twigg, Padraig Amond (Dessie Baker 82).
Goal: G Twigg (36, 87), D Baker (90+1).
Unused Subs: Barry Murphy (GK), Greg Cameron.
DUNDALK FC (4-4-2): Chris Bennion; Simon Kelly, Liam Burns, Thomas Heary (Michael McGinlay 65), Michael Synnott (Michael Coburn 49); Shaun Kelly, Chris Turner, Michael Daly, Tiarnán Mulvenna; Darren Mansaram, Ger Rowe.
Goal: M Daly (66).
Booked: T Heary (62), D Mansaram (70).
Unused Subs: Ryan Coulter (GK), John Smyth, Sean Mackle.
Referee: Dave McKeon (Dublin).