Report: Shelbourne 2-1 Rovers

It was a disappointing end to what started off as a good Easter Weekend with the Bit O’ Red beaten 2-1 in Tolka Park by Shelbourne on Monday night.

The side were on the back of a good win over Dundalk three days previous and Manager John Russell made two changes to the team from that game with Greg Bolger returning in place of Niall Morahan and Daniel Lafferty handed his first start of the season in place of Reece Hutchinson at left back.

The game started on a sour note for Rovers as Estonian midfielder Bogdan Vastsuk barely had a touch of the ball and was forced off after four minutes with a groin injury. Stefan Radosavljevic, scorer of Friday’s winning goal, came on in his place.

Shelbourne started brightly and inside the opening seven minutes had a couple of chances. Tyreke Wilson found himself inside the area on the left but opted to cross instead of shoot, and his cross was cleared.

Jack Moylan found space in the area and shot straight at Luke McNicholas moments later in a frantic opening period.

Rovers went straight down the other end and Will Fitzgerald got in down the left hand side and squared for Radosavljevic who couldn’t divert his shot on target from close range with the goalkeeper Conor Kearns beaten.

Fitzgerald was threatening again, this time Radosavljevic slipped him in down the left and the Limerick man’s shot came crashing off the Shelbourne crossbar and away to safety.

Rovers were well on top at this stage and forced a number of corners, one of which brought the opening goal of the game on 36 minutes.

Fabrice Hartmann’s set piece was met by Daniel Lafferty to score a closer range header to get his first goal for the club, much to the delighted of the 400 Bit O’ Red supporters on Richmond Road who saw their side go in 1-0 up at the break.

Damien Duff made three changes at half-time as he looked to inject some life into his Shelbourne team.

One of those subs, Shane Farrell found himself in the penalty area on 53 minutes but Fitzgerald won possession back and dribbled toward safety. Farrell looked to have pulled him down then but the referee waved play on and the Dubliner crossed to the back post for Matty Smith to control and fire into the roof of the net to level matters.

Five minutes later, Farrell’s long range diagonal pass was intercepted by John Mahon but his header, aimed toward goalkeeper Luke McNicholas ended up in his own net as McNicholas lost his footing and Shelbourne were in front.

Frank Liivak had a shot saved up the other end after the restart and Russell made three changes on 67 minutes with Kailin Barlow, Reece Hutchinson and Eanna Clancy coming on for Lukas Browning, Daniel Lafferty and John Mahon.

Barlow tested goalkeeper Kearns on 74 minutes with a strike from the edge of the area and Fabrice Hartmann’s cross from the right was too high for Max Mata soon after as Rovers pushed for an equaliser.

As Rovers pushed forward the hosts looked to threaten on the counter attack through the likes of Jack Moylan, goalscorer Smith and substitute Jad Hakiki. Greg Bolger was booked for stopping one attack in particular and Eanna Clancy was forced off with a hamstring injury picked up when running back toward his own goal chasing a Shelbourne attacker, Niall Morahan replaced him in the back four.

There were four minutes added on at the end of the game but to no avail as Rovers ended up losing 2-1 in a tight and lively encounter in Dublin.

Next up is a home game with Drogheda United this Saturday at The Showgrounds, with a 7.45pm kick off.