Report: Shamrock Rovers 2-2 Sligo Rovers

The Bit O’ Red travelled to Tallaght on Friday night knowing that a win may have taken us to the top of The SSE Airtricity Premier Division table. The hosts, Shamrock Rovers went into the game a point behind Rovers but with a game extra played.

It was a beautiful night for football and that showed with the attendance figure of 4,513, around 350 of those in the away end.

Shamrock Rovers started brightest in the opening few minutes with plenty of possesion in the midfield area but little in terms of goalmouth opportunities. Rory Gaffney went close with a header before Rovers created a chance of their own when Jordan Hamilton spotted Karl O’ Sullivan on the right. The Limerick man’s shot went just wide of Alan Mannus’ goal.

On 18 minutes, The Bit O’ Red took the lead. Lewis Banks found Hamilton from a throw, The Canadian turned and looked up and saw Will Fitzgerald make a run into the box from the left. The cross was perfect and the header was even better, perfectly placed into Mannus’ bottom corner.

It was an entertaining opening half and both sides created more chances but it was Rovers who struck once again on the half hour. Barry Cotter played a ball inside towards the edge of his own area. The busy Aidan Keena pounced on the wayward pass and composed himself before striking in off the post past Alan Mannus.

The away end was in full voice by now and the lads responded, defending well and hitting Shamrock Rovers on the counter attack on numerous occasions.

Ed McGinty had to be alert in goal as the home side looked to cut the deficit before the break but it remained 2-0 when Derek Tomney blew his whistle.

The second half was a different game. Jack Byrne and Neil Farrugia were introduced for the home side, and they reacted and kept possession for long periods. McGinty dealt with everything thrown at him with great confidence and Rovers continued to be a threat on the break.

Full back Andy Lyons picked up possession on the right on 62 minutes and ran toward the Rovers penalty area. As he was entering the box, he was adjudged to have been taken down by a trailing Adam McDonnell leg and Derek Tomney pointed to the spot. The Bit O’ Red players felt the challenge was outside the area but Tomney stuck to his decision and Graham Burke stepped up to score past McGinty.

Colm Horgan, David Cawley and Max Mata were introduced for Keena, Hamilton and O’ Sullivan but they couldn’t prevent the hosts from equalising. A cross into the area from the right was headed on and the ball went in off McDonnell for an unfortunate own goal on 81 minutes.

Rovers had the best chance in the closing stages as subs Horgan and Mata combined for the latter to shoot straight at Mannus on 90 minutes.

Next up for Rovers is a home game against Shelbourne followed by two more Showgrounds ties against Bohemians and UCD.