Report: Rovers 2-1 Derry City

Rovers hosted Derry City on Monday night at The Showgrounds in front of 1973 supporters in the club’s first game since the departure of Liam Buckley on Sunday.

Interim boss John Russell made two changes to the team which lost to Bohemians on Friday night, with Paddy Kirk and Adam McDonnell coming into the starting team in place of Robbie McCourt and David Cawley who were both injured.

The game started with a high tempo and Rovers came out of the blocks flying. Good play from Paddy Kirk and Will Fitzgerald on the left saw the winger deliver a dangerous ball into the area inside the opening minute and Derry had to clear it for a corner.

This set the pace for what was to come as a frantic opening half was underway. The front four of Keena, Fitzgerald, O’ Sullivan and McDonnell were causing problems for the Derry defence and forced a number of corners and had some half chances in the first quarter hour.

It was Keena’s neat turn and shot that forced a corner for Rovers on 20 minutes. Adam McDonnell’s inswinger was flicked on by a Derry defender into the path of Garry Buckley who steered the ball home from a yard out. Buckley wheeled away and celebrated by gesturing to his recently born baby Alvey in a nice moment for the defender.

After that Rovers went in search of a second when Karl O’ Sullivan’s shot was saved by Brian Maher who collected the rebound before McDonnell could get there.

Derry then had a massive chance of their own. A Rovers corner was cleared and midfielder Joe Thompson broke clear of the Bit O’ Red defence from half way and was bearing down on goal. Will Fitzgerald tracked him all the way and Ed McGinty flew out of his goal to deny him brilliantly at his feet.

O’ Sullivan tried his luck again soon after but Maher was equal to it in a real entertaining first half.

Just as the fourth official was about to put the board up to show how many additional minutes would be played, the visitors equalised through Jamie McGonigle who finished well in the area despite pressure from Rovers’ defenders.

The second half started with both teams looking to get a hold of possession in midfield but not many clear cut chances coming for either side.

Adam McDonnell had two shots on target just after the hour, the first coming after Niall Morahan won possession in midfield to find Fitzgerald who slipped the midfielder through in the box but Maher saved well. Aidan Keena took the ball down well and found McDonnell just a minute later, his shot on his weaker right foot didn’t have enough to trouble Derry’s ‘keeper.

The game was opening up at this stage with both teams looking for a second goal. Derry had chances with two Will Patching free kicks which McGinty saved, the second right on the edge of the box which curled around the wall only to be denied by a find save by Rovers’ number one.

The best chance of the half fell to Jamie McGonigle. The striker found himself six yards out from goal and he helped it on past McGinty but it fell agonisingly wide of the left upright.

After this it was all Rovers however and John Russell made changes with Cillian Heaney, Nando Pijnaker and Seamas Keogh all introduced for O’ Sullivan, Morahan and Buckley who picked up an injury.

The home crowd were in full voice as we pushed for a winner in the closing stages. Keena tried his luck from distance but his shot was blocked. Heaney and Horgan combined on the right but the full back’s cross went out the back and to safety.

Fourth official Rob Harvey put up the board to show three minutes of added time at the end of the game. Patient build up play from Rovers saw Seamas Keogh pick up possession just inside the area. He jinked his way past two or three Derry defenders before his effort was blocked when it looked like he might score the all important second goal.

He wasn’t to be denied however and a minute later good play on the left from McDonnell and Fitzgerald eventually saw the ball come to Colm Horgan. Horgan played it inside to Keogh who’s first touch beat the Derry defender. Keogh composed himself before firing into the roof of the net to bring The Showgrounds into raptures.

Paul McLaughlin blew his whistle after Derry restarted the game to signal the end and it meant Rovers picked up a valuable three points on a big night at The Showgrounds.

Next up is a trip to UCD this Friday at 7.45pm