Shamrock Rovers 1 St Patrick’s Athletic 0
A 77th-minute own goal by Kevin Toner helped Shamrock Rovers to claim all three points at the expense of St Patrick’s Athletic in a tense Premier Division clash at Tallaght Stadium.
Both sides looked set for a share of the spoils, until Toner inadvertently sliced an Ethan Boyle cross past Pat’s netminder Barry Murphy. This ensures that Rovers hold onto fourth place in the top-flight table, with results elsewhere seeing their opponents dropping down to seventh.
Whereas Liam Buckley kept faith with the Pat’s side that played out a scoreless draw with Dundalk last Monday, a 1-0 defeat to champions Cork City prompted wholesale changes from Rovers boss Stephen Bradley.
A fit-again Greg Bolger anchored the home team’s midfield and he kept a close eye on Darragh Markey for much of the opening half.
Chances were few and far between in the early stages of the contest, before Rovers goalkeeper Tomer Chencinski clawed away Owen Garvan’s audacious free-kick from a tight-angle.
Trevor Clarke was getting forward at will for the hosts, and his inch-perfect delivery on the stroke of 20 minutes was headed past the post by the unmarked Brandon Miele.
A subsequent shot by Graham Burke forced a low save from the ever-reliable Murphy. Yet, following a comfortable Chencinski stop from a close-range Conan Byrne effort, the sides remained inseparable at the break.
As he looked to increase the tempo of his attack after the break, Buckley introduced Ian Turner for the ineffectual Byrne on the right wing.
Gary Shaw was thrown into mix by Rovers as the final-quarter beckoned – in a direct swap with the industrious Daniel Carr. Burke had seen an earlier strike float just over the left-hand upright and Seán Kavanagh was also off-target after Boyle picked him out inside the Pat’s box.
Despite being on the front-foot for much of the second period, Rovers were still searching for an elusive breakthrough goal. However, with just 12 minutes of normal time remaining, Murphy was finally beaten in cruel circumstances.
From a Boyle cross on the right, Toner diverted the ball into his own net. This suddenly moved Rovers into the ascendancy with the finishing line in sight and placed Pat’s on the brink of a third league defeat in 2018.
They applied significant pressure on the Rovers goal in the closing stages, but ultimately couldn’t find a way through a disciplined home rearguard.
SHAMROCK ROVERS: Chencinski; Boyle, Grace, Lopes, Clarke; Bolger, Miele (Coustrain, 78 mins), Finn, Burke (Byrne, 88 mins), Kavanagh; Carr (Shaw, 66 mins).
ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC: Murphy; Madden, Desmond, Toner, Bermingham; Brennan, Garvan; Byrne (Turner, 54 mins), Markey (Keegan, 84 mins), Clarke (Doona, 84 mins); Fagan.
Referee: D Tomney (Dublin).