Drogheda United 0-3 Rovers: Report

The Bit O’ Red travelled to Head in The Game Park last night to take on Drogheda United in The SSE Airtricity Premier Division.

It was the fourth game of the season for both teams, with the home side picking up three points against UCD last week after two defeats to Shelbourne and Shamrock Rovers in their other two fixtures. Rovers were unbeaten going into the game after an opening day win over St Patrick’s Athletic followed by two draws with Derry City and Dundalk.

Liam Buckley welcomed back Greg Bolger and Robbie McCourt to the squad after missing the stalemate with Dundalk due to injury. Goalkeeper Ed McGinty was ill so experienced ‘keeper Richard Brush made his first start of the season in goal.

Buckley made three changes in total, with Jordan Hamilton and Max Mata making their full debuts in place of Aidan Keena and David Cawley.

Rovers started brightly and forced a corner in the 7th minute. Will Fitzgerald’s inswinger was glanced on and Lewis Banks was on hand to head home from six yards out to give The Bit O’ Red the lead.

Rovers created more chances after that with Karl O’ Sullivan going closest before Jordan Hamilton grabbed his first goal for the club on 17 minutes.

Good play down the left found Max Mata with time and space and the New Zealander found the Canadian who finished well from close range.

It was all Rovers at this point and some quick counter attacking play was pleasing on the eye for the 150 or so travelling supporters. The front four players were causing problems for the home defence and that was proved again in the 34th minute with some neat interplay ended up with Mata teeing up Hamilton to find Will Fitzgerald on the left. The winger drove toward the penalty area and unleashed an unstoppable effort into the top corner past Sam Long.

Mata then had a chance of his own. Garry Buckley’s long range through ball was perfect and Mata was through on goal. Long did enough to narrow the angle and save the strikers effort.

The second half started brightly for The Drogs and they were awarded a penalty on 49 minutes. A cross from the left was adjudged to have struck Buckley on the arm and Paul McLaughlin pointed to the spot. Defender Georgie Poynton stepped up but put his penalty wide of Richard Brush’s post. Brush, making his first appearance since the end of 2021, had a fine display in goal proving that Rovers’ goalkeeping department is certainly in safe hands.

Manager Buckley made five changes in the second half with David Cawley, Seamas Keogh, Shane Blaney, Aidan Keena and Mark Byrne all introduced for Mata, Hamilton, Buckley, Karl O’ Sullivan and Adam McDonnell.

In fairness to the home side they rallied until the end and went close on a couple of occasions. Rovers again threatened on the counter with Keena going close late on but the points were secure and we now move on to Monday night’s North West Derby with Finn Harps.

Kick off is 7.45pm and tickets are available a www.srfcdirect.com or at the turnstiles.