Sam McKeever reports from Richmond Park
Shamrock Rovers gained a vital three points at Richmond Park on Friday night as an early Aaron McEneff penalty ensured vixtory over Dublin rivals Saint Patrick's Athletic.
Pats remained unchanged from their previous outing against UCD, while Rovers made three changes from Monday night’s game with Finn Harps, with captain Ronan Finn returning.
The opening minutes were frantic and it was Pats who created the first decent chance. Rhys McCabe did well to close down high up the pitch before putting in a cross from the left hand side. Former Rovers man Mikey Drennan flicked it on to Brandon Miele who volleyed over the bar at the back post.
A minute later and Harry Kenny’s side shot themselves in the foot when a mistake from Lee Desmond let Aaron Greene through on goal. He was brought down by Kevin Toner and referee Neil Doyle pointed to the spot.
McEneff stepped up and made no mistake from 12 yards, sending Brendan Clarke the wrong way.
On the half hour mark Rovers should of made it two. A perfect counter attack involving Ronan Finn, Jack Byrne and Trevor Clarke ended up putting Dan Carr through. The striker had the whole goal to aim at but he was hesitant, hitting the side netting with his effort.
The Hoops were standing up well to the Pats pressure but they conceded a massive chance just two minutes later. Rhys McCabe flicked the ball on to Miele who’s fantastic cross found Mikey Drennan on the penalty spot, with the striker dragging his effort wide when he really should have hit the target.
The second half came alive just after the hour with an almighty scramble from a Jack Byrne corner. A flick on by Carr found Roberto Lopes whose effort hit the bar before Joey O’Brien had a second bite of the cherry which was cleared off the line. Strong appeals for a penalty came from Rovers after the ball went out of play but Neil Doyle waved them away.
A minute later and O’Brien was involved again. A cross from the left found the former Bolton man in the Pats box and his strong header was destined for the bottom corner before Brendan Clarke came to the Saints' rescue, palming it away from goal.
Pats went on a dangerous counter attack with 20 minutes to go. A dangerous ball by Dean Clarke from the right just evaded Gary Shaw who only needed to stick his foot out to tap into an empty net. The Rovers defence were relieved to see the ball go out for a throw in.
Rovers should have doubled their lead with 13 minutes to go. A misunderstanding between Desmond and Clarke in the Pat’s defence left Aaron Greene with the goal at his mercy but the striker made a mess of the chance, putting it wide when it was harder to miss than to score.
Greene was once again involved when he controlled a long ball up and turned Madden with ease before bursting through one-on-one against Clarke. He lacked the finishing touch, though, and Clarke got down well to save, denying Rovers the chance to seal the game.
St. Patrick’s Athletic: Brendan Clarke; Simon Madden, Kevin Toner, Lee Desmond, Ian Bermingham; Jamie Lennon, Conor Clifford (Gary Shaw 61); Brandon Miele (Dean Clarke 61), Chris Forrester (James Doona 72), Rhys McCabe; Mikey Drennan.
Subs not used: Barry Murphy (gk), David Webster, Darragh Markey, Cian Coleman.
Bookings: Kevin Toner (6), Conor Clifford (31).
Shamrock Rovers: Alan Mannus; Roberto Lopes, Joey O’Brien, Lee Grace, Trevor Clarke; Aaron McEneff, Greg Bolger; Jack Byrne (Dylan Watts 77), Ronan Finn (Sam Bone 88), Dan Carr (Sean Kavanagh 72); Aaron Greene.
Subs not used: Leon Pohls (gk), Joel Coustraan, Brandon Kavanagh, Orhan Vojic.
Bookings: Greg Bolger (87).
Referee: Neil Doyle.
Attendance: 4,389 (official).
Extratime Player of the Match: Brendan Clarke (St Patrick’s Athletic).