Toner own goal hands Rovers win
SHAMROCK R 1
ST PAT’S ATH 0
reports from Tallaght Stadium
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 last night.
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.
Tomer Chencinski replaced Kevin Horgan as the last line of their defence, while Ethan Boyle, Robert Lopes and Trevor Clarke deputised for Joey O’Brien, Ally Gilchrist and Luke Byrne respectively.
Lee Grace was the sole survivor alongside them in the Hoops’ back-four and a fit-again Greg Bolger anchored the home team’s midfield at the expense of Sam Bone. A former league winner with Pat’s, Bolger 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, though full-back Simon Madden offered a strong attacking threat for the visitors. After he was fouled by Clarke on the right-flank, Chencinski clawed away Owen Garvan’s audacious free-kick from a tight-angle.
Clarke was also 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. With lone striker Dan Carr holding up the ball effectively, Rovers were beginning to find some pockets of space inside the final-third.
A subsequent shot by Graham Burke drifted harmlessly past the target, before he forced a low save from Barry Murphy. Christy Fagan cut an isolated figure for much of the first half, as Pat’s struggled to bring the striker into the play.
From his first sighting of the target, he fired past Chencinski’s left-hand post. With the interval approaching, Conan Byrne was booked for a late challenge on Clarke joining Hoops defender Ethan Boyle in Derek Tomney’s notebook.
Following a comfortable Chencinski stop from a close-range Byrne effort in the 43rd-minute, the sides remained inseparable at the break.
As he looked to increase the tempo of his attack, Buckley introduced Ian Turner for 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 Carr.
Burke had seen an earlier strike float just past the left-hand upright and 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 delivery 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.
Pat’s applied significant pressure on the Rovers goal in the closing stages, but couldn’t find a way through a disciplined home rearguard.
SHAMROCK ROVERS: Chencinski; Boyle, Grace, Lopes, Clarke; Bolger, Finn; Miele (Coustrain 78), Burke (Byrne 88), Kavanagh; Carr (Shaw 66).
Booked: Clarke 12
Scorers: Toner og 77
ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC: Murphy; Madden, Desmond, Toner, Bermingham; Brennan, Garvan; Byrne (Turner 54), Markey (Keegan 84), Clarke (Doona 84); Fagan.
Booked: Byrne 41, Toner 51
Referee: D Tomney (Dublin).