FAI Cup SF
Date: 3:15 p.m. Oct. 17, 2010
Venue: Tallaght Stadium
It took Shamrock Rovers just sixteen minutes to open the scoring and when it came the goal was due reward for a side that started this crucial game with an easy confidence which reminded us why they have spent the greater part of the season on top of the league.
Of course the leadership of the Premier Division has been ceded in trying circumstances to their great rivals Bohemians, so it was all the more impressive that Michael O’Neill’s men began this game with such fluency.
It was Derek Doyle who gave away the key free kick with an innocuous hand ball in the middle of the park. Billy Dennehy’s flighted free kick into the St Pats box found Chris Turner who rose highest and looped his header over Gary Rogers and just under the visitor’s crossbar.
Four minutes later Gary Twigg had a chance to do something similar when he got on the end of a James Chambers cross from the right, but his header sailed over the bar rather than under it.
Shortly after this Rover’s long list of injuries increased by one when Chambers had to leave the field, replaced on the right side of midfield by Paddy Kavanagh. And Kavanagh looked immediately at home, running at the Pat’s defence and linking well with Turner and Thomas Stewart.
But Pats have deservedly forged a reputation for doughty perseverance and they were starting to make some headway of their own. In the 29th minute Ian Bermingham broke down the right and floated in a delightful cross that Alan Mannus in the Rovers goal found difficult to judge. Fortunately for him Turner had the measure of it and headed it behind.
The corner came to nothing but Pats were quick to work the ball back down their right flank where Danny North took on Enda Stevens and did well to leave the full back in his wake. He rolled a simple ball into the path of Dave McAllister who had found the kind of space that no defence should leave on the edge of their box. Unmarked, the midfielder showed impressive calm to finish with a low shot across Mannus and into the Rovers net.
In the added minutes before half time both sides might have earned themselves a lead to take into the break. Danny North tormented Aidan Price on the right before unleashing a fierce shot into the side netting. Then a Ryan Guy cross found McAllister whose close range header was palmed away by Mannus at his near post.
In the 47th minute Billy Dennehy broke swiftly down the left for the home side and was cynically taken down by Derek Pender. Stephen Bradley cut the free kick towards the top right of Gary Rogers’ goal but the Pat’s ‘keeper made an impressive save.
The second half began with the home side in the ascendancy. Kavanagh showed pace and skill to beat Byrne on the right wing but Twigg could do nothing with the subsequent possession. And in the 50th minute Twigg was too slow to see Dennehy all alone at the back post and a promising move was squandered.
As the game moved past the hour mark Michael O’Neill replaced thomas Stewart with Dessie Baker, perhaps recognising that for all Rovers’ possession they were struggling to penetrate the visitor’s back four. Moments later and Stephen Rice, operating for the day as a right back, whipped a cross into the Pat’s box where Gary Twigg’s clinical header beat Rogers at his near post.
That goal came in 64th minute and for the next ten minutes Rovers looked as if they might increase their lead. And no-one was looking more likely to make a difference than Dessie Baker. In the 70th minute Dennehy won a loose ball and found Baker. He shuffled forward, waiting for the right moment, before releasing Twigg on the left side of the Pat’s box. But his whipped cross rolled across the six yard box and way.
Thereafter St Pats, recognising what was drifting away from them, stepped up the pace. North fired wide of Mannus’ near post from 12 yards and McAllister had a header brilliantly touched around the post by the Rovers ‘keeper.
With five minutes left a series of corners came into the Rovers box but, despite the increasing pressure, their back-line held firm. Sean Stewart came on for defender Haverty as Pats sought more forward momentum and Robert Bayly came on for Twigg as Rovers fought to hold back the red tide.
On 86 minutes Rovers broke and lovely interplay between Bayly and Baker set Dennehy free 15 yards out. He picked his spot and side- footed the ball towards the corner but Rogers saved superbly.
With ninety minutes on the clock, Pats finally made their pressure count and inflicted yet another last minute tragedy on their opponents. A Brian Cash free kick had caused mayhem in the home box before the ball was eventually knocked out for a corner. When it came in it was met by Paddy Kavanagh who sent a header straight past Mannus and into his own net.
Added time was spent in a vain attempt by Rovers to claw their lead back but it wasn’t to be and a hopeful Kavanagh swipe from twenty yards sailed high over the bar. So it will be a replay at Richmond Park next Tuesday where Michael O’Neill’s shell-shocked men must start again.
Shamrock Rovers: Alan Mannus; Stephen Rice, Pat Flynn, Aidan Price, Enda Stevens; James Chambers (Paddy Kavanagh, 25), Stephen Bradley, Chris Turner, Billy Dennehy; Gary Twigg (Robert Bayly, 83), Thomas Stewart (Dessie Baker, 62).
Subs not used: Pat Jennings, Mick Doyle, Aidan Downes, Neale Fenn.
Bookings: Price (28), Dennehy (73).
St Patrick’s Athletic: Gary Rogers; Derek Pender, Conor Kenna, Noel Haverty (Sean Stewart, 80), Ian Bermingham; Dave McAllister, Dave Mulcahy, Stewart Byrne, Derek Doyle (Brian Cash, 69); Ryan Guy, Daniel North (Vinny Faherty, 93).
Subs not used: Paul Hunt, Shane Guthrie, James O’Brien, Paul Byrne.
Bookings: Bermingham (9), Pender (45 +3), Stewart Byrne (90 +4).
extratime.ie Man of the Match: Stephen Rice