Shamrock Rovers returned to the top of the Airtricity League table tonight after a Gary Twigg goal gave them a hard fought 1-0 win over their bitter rivals Bohemians at Dalymount Park.
A hostile and fiery reception awaited the sides as they took to the pitch for the latest battle between the two clubs .Both teams took quite a while to settle down in this tense affair as the crowd got behind their clubs right from the kick off.
The first major chance of the game came the way of the home side inside the first five minutes. The ball was played over the top of the Rovers defence for Christy Fagan to latch onto but the Bohemians striker could only manage a tame shot at goal after good pressure from Dan Murray.
Rovers took a while to get their first chance to test Barry Murphy with neither team able to take much of a foothold in midfield. It did come though as Ronan Finn spread the ball wide to Billy Dennehy. The pacy winger dashed past Owen Heary and straight towards goal before blasting the ball straight at Murphy.
The chance was the first of many to come for the Hoops in the opening exchanges as the Rovers midfield pair of Ronan Finn and Stephen Rice began to take a command in the middle of the park with Stevens and Dennehy also causing havoc down the wing for Rovers.
The constant pressure almost paid off for the visitors after a pinpoint cross into the area by Enda Stevens was met by the head of Dean Kelly only for the ball to cannon back off the crossbar and straight into the path of Rice who blazed over from only yards out.
The away side asking serious questions of the Bohemians defence and looking far more likely to score but the home side held together well and could have been in front completely against the run of play after a bizarre chain of events among the Rovers defence.
There was major confusion between Ryan Thompson and Dan Murray just before the break as both players left the ball for each other to clear. Christy Fagan was quick to pick up on the pair switching off and almost nipped the ball away from Murray but the towering defender recovered well to put the ball out for a corner. The embarrassing situation left the Rovers pair screaming at each other with the referee eventually intervening to calm things down.
Bohemians had a far brighter opening to the second half much to the delight of the home crowd with Killian Brennan and Christy Fagan both coming closest to opening the scoring for the home side but it was to no avail as the breakthrough soon came the way of the visitors.
With sixty six minutes played, a quick break in midfield resulted in the ball being sprayed out to Billy Dennehy who earned himself a corner after some neat play down the wing. The corner was taken quickly by Dennehy himself and after plenty of scrambling in the box the ball seemed to hit off Gary Twigg and into the net to give the visitors the lead.
The goal acted as a serious wake up call for Bohs as they began to press up the pitch in search of an equaliser. Aidan Downes looking to make a quick impact from the bench broke past Enda Stevens and squared the ball into the middle for Ger O’Brien who just couldn’t connect properly and blazed the ball over Murphy's crossbar.
The home side kept pushing for that all important equaliser with chances coming through Killian Brennan and Aidan Downes but the Rovers rearguard were holding firm.
Their final chance came in the dying seconds after neat build up play from the home side. The ball was played into space to Killian Brennan who tried to place the ball past Thompson in the bottom corner of the net. A late reaction from the Rovers goalie led to one last hopeful cross into the box by Aidan Downes with a weak header from Ger O'Brien the end result
That was to be the final chance of the game as Rovers held out for a much needed three points against their bitter rivals Bohemians to put them back on top for the time being.
Bohemians: Barry Murphy; Owen Heary, Mark Rossiter (Ollie Cahill 59’), Liam Burns, Aidan Price; Ger O’Brien, Keith Buckley, Glenn Cronin, Robert Bayly (Aidan Downes 59’), Killian Brennan; Christy Fagan (Christopher Forrester 84’).
Subs not used: Gary Burke, Roberto Lopes, Kevin Feely, Craig Sexton.
Shamrock Rovers: Ryan Thompson; Pat Flynn, Craig Sives, Dan Murray, Enda Stevens; Conor McCormack, Stephen Rice, Ronan Finn (Gary O’Neill 70’), Dean Kelly, Billy Dennehy (Karl Moore 78’); Gary Twigg (Ciaran Kilduff 91).
Subs not used: Richard Brush, Paddy Kavanagh, Lorcan Shannon, Sean Gannon.
Referee: Damien Hancock.
extratime.ie Man of the Match: Barry Murphy.