Following a three week break for the European Championships, Shelbourne and Shamrock Rovers produced fare as entertaining as anything the continent’s leading lights could muster.
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Rovers gave a display of champions as they twice came from behind to nick a 3-2 win with Scottish star striker Gary Twigg notching a lucky winner with ten minutes to play to move the Hoops to within five points of table toppers Sligo.
Shels were ahead inside the opening three minutes following concerted pressure from the Tolka Park outfit at the start of the game. Rovers’ goalkeeper Jansson did well to save from David Cassidy originally and then to tip over Philly Hughes’ thumping 40 yard hit.
From the corner, Shels forced the ball home following a good save from Jansson and a goal line clearance by Oman, Paul Byrne eventually managed to get the ball over the visitors’ goal line.
The goal sparked Rovers into life and they forced a number of chances in quick succession before Gartland had a header saved only for poacher supreme Twigg to pounce on the rebound and net the equalizer.
Shels’ then had Murphy sent off for stupidly launching himself two footed at former team mate Powell and referee Tom Connolly had little choice but to send him off.
Shels’ coped well with the loss of a man however as Alan Matthews sacrificed goalscorer Byrne for Conan Byrne to be introduced on the right wing. The substitution nearly paid the ultimate dividend when the sub hammered a piledriver which Jannson did well to get around the post and the sides went in level at the short whistle.
Sub Byrne had an early second half chance for the side a man down but his header was straight at the ‘keeper. Rovers regained the initiative early in the second half but Shels’ defence held firm.
Hughes was a constant threat on the right wing for the home side however as he set up a number of chances for his team mates – particularly Kavanagh who fired into the side netting from 10 yards out.
Hughes then produced a moment of absolute brilliance when he picked up the ball on the edge of the penalty before beating four men with lightning quick speed and slamming the ball into the roof of the net to give the hosts the lead once again.
The lead lasted barely four minutes however, as the champions got the luck they needed. McCabe had just had an effort blocked by Paisley when he tried again and this time Brian Shortall’s nick caught out Delaney and spun past the hapless goalkeeper.
Delaney did well to deny Dennehy and Aaron Greene in quick succession, but he could do little as Twigg poached his second goal to reignite Rovers’ season. Rovers leapfrog St. Pars into second place while Shels stay sixth and middle of the table.
Shelbourne: Delany; Ryan, Paisley, Shortall, Clancy (Hurley 84); Murphy, Dawson, Cassidy, Kavanagh; P Byrne (C Byrne 30), Hughes.
Shamrock Rovers: Jansson; Gilbert (Turner 35), Gartland, Oman, Powell; McCabe, McCormack, Finn, Dennehy; O’Neill (Greene 68), Twigg.