Report: Rovers 1-1 Shamrock Rovers

Friday night saw Sligo Rovers host Shamrock Rovers at The Showgrounds in front of just under 3,000 supporters on a perfect evening for football.

The visitors came into the game on a five game winning streak, with The Bit O’ Red having won their two previous games against Finn Harps and Drogheda United.

Liam Buckley made four changes to his Bit O’ Red starting eleven from the previous game against Drogheda United with Nando Pijnaker, Adam McDonnell, Lewis Banks and Jordan Hamilton coming into the side for Paddy Kirk, Niall Morahan, Will Fitzgerald and Mark Byrne.

The first twenty minutes or so were tight with both sides getting the ball down and trying to play through midfield and both defences standing firm denying any clear cut chances.

On 22 minutes however, the away side took the lead. Jack Byrne picked up possession in the final third and played a fine through ball to Ronan Finn down the right. Finn’s cross found Danny Mandriou who’s shot was saved by Edward McGinty who tipped it around the post and out for a corner. From the resulting set piece, Andy Lyons found space and time and he placed a header into the corner to give his side the lead.

The Bit O’ Red reacted well to this and forced a number of corners and half chances but couldn’t really test Alan Mannus in the Shamrock Rovers goal.

Garry Buckley was booked on the stroke of half time for a foul on Mandriou, a booking which would come back to haunt the defender later on.

In the second half, The Bit O’ Red went in search of an equaliser, with Aidan Keena coming closest around five minutes into the half. Shane Blanmey was forced off soon after and Robbie McCourt came on in place of him at left back.

The game became a little more free-flowing for the remaining thirty minutes with both sides playing good football and creating more space and opportunity in front of goal.

Liam Buckley brought on youngster Cillian Heaney in place of Keena on 66 minutes and immediately the Mayo man began to impress. He showed no fear up against an experienced Shamrock Rovers defence. His pressure forced Lee Grace into an error when his clearance dropped to Jordan Hamilton who couldn’t quite get his shot away.

The home support was in full voice at this stage and getting behind the team and moment later Rovers had their goal. Garry Buckley found Heaney on the right who took his time and found the on rushing David Cawley who took the ball into the area onto his left foot and floated a perfect cross to Hamilton who’s header found the bottom corner past Mannus to make it 1-1.

Both sides created some half chances after this with McCourt coming closest for Rovers with a left footed strike from just inside the area saved by Mannus.

In the 85th minute, Garry Buckley was shown his second yellow card for a foul on Richie Towell which gave the visitors a boost going into the closing stages. Liam Buckley immediately brought on extra cover with Paddy Kirk replacing Jordan Hamilton.

Five minutes of added time couldn’t bring a winner for either side and the points were shared for the second time this season.

Both clubs meet again on Monday May 9th at Tallaght Stadium in a game that was originally scheduled for July but brought forward due to European competition.

Rovers travel to Shelbourne on Friday night in their next fixture. The game starts at 7.45pm at Tolka Park.