Report: Shamrock Rovers 2-1 Sligo Rovers

The Bit O’ Red travelled to Tallaght Stadium on Friday night to take on Shamrock Rovers in the SSE Airtricity Men’s Premier Division.

Both sides came into the game on the back of wins last weekend, the hosts defeating St. Patrick’s Athletic 2-0 and Rovers beating UCD 3-1 at The Showgrounds with goals from Max Mata and Fabrice Hartmann, scoring twice.

There were injury concerns for John Russell heading into the game with Garry Buckley, Gary Boylan, Karl O’ Sullivan, Conor Walsh, Mark Byrne and Bogdan Vastsuk all definitely ruled out.

Eanna Clancy, John Mahon, James Finnerty and Fabrice Hartmann were all carrying knocks and Clancy was the only one to make it, starting in place of Finnerty who picked up and achilles strain in the win over UCD along with Hartmann who tweaked a muscle just moments before his second goal of the evening. John Mahon continues to recover from an ankle problem.

Frank Liivak started in place of Hartmann and the winger was a constant threat down the Rovers right hand side, picking up possession time after time throughout the 90 minutes.

The game started well for the Bit O’ Red with long spells of possession causing problems for the Shamrock Rovers defence. Kailin Barlow picked up some good positions in the final third and wingers Will Fitzgerald and Liivak were always available when needed.

Greg Bolger and Niall Morahan bossed the midfield battle and Rovers forced a few corners which came to nothing.

Against the run of play, the home side took the lead. Markus Poom played a ball in behind the Rovers back four and Johnny Kenny raced onto it to finish past Luke McNicholas to give his side the opening goal on 19 minutes. Kenny, a Riverstown native and a former Bit O’ Red player was muted in his celebrations against his former club.

John Russell’s side didn’t let the goal effect their approach and minutes later Niall Morahan’s shot was deflected behind for a corner and Will Fitzgerald’s cross was headed wide by Max Mata.

A minute later, Frank Liivak broke clear and when it looked like Mata was in behind, the Estonian’s pass evaded him and away to safety.

Mata went close again soon after with a stinging shot, saved by Alan Mannus and Barlow then robbed Poom of possession and teed up Mata who almost scored from distance, with his effort going just wide.

It was 1-0 at half-time.

The second half started as the first half ended, with Rovers dominating possession for long periods and looking to get forward at every opportunity.

Stefan Radosavljevic replaced Kailin Barlow on the hour and against the run of play, the hosts doubled their lead on 64 minutes when Jack Byrne played a lovely pass to Trevor Clarke and he made no mistake, blasting it past McNicholas.

Eanna Clancy was forced off before the restart and Daniel Lafferty replaced him in the back four.

Almost straight from the restart, The Bit O’ Red were back in it. Frank Liivak again broke down the right and cut inside and found Bolger around 25 yards out and his low, powerful shot took a slight deflection of Roberto Lopes and into the net for his first Sligo Rovers goal.

Rovers were pushing everything forward for the last twenty minutes. Russell threw on Lukas Browning and David Cawley for Bogler and Johan Brannefalk and the midfield pair continued to keep possession and probe forward.

Two minutes from the end was Rovers’ best chance to equalise. Radosavljevic’s corner was headed just over the bar by Mata from about 8 yards with Mannus beaten.

Five minutes of injury time couldn’t bring an equaliser and Rovers would head back down the N4 to Sligo frustrated by what could have been.

Next up is an away game with St. Patrick’s Athletic on Bank Holiday Monday at 3pm.