- NL C Grp 4
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A Gary Twigg goal was all that separated the sides in an entertaining Dublin derby, as a gutsy Shelbourne put it up to league champions Shamrock Rovers despite having a man sent off in the first half.
Twigg's earlier goal in the first half had equalised for the Hoops after Paul Byrne gave Shels an early lead. Philly Hughes put ten-man Shels ahead again on 64 minutes only to see his goal cancelled out four minutes later through a Gary McCabe effort.
Byrne gave Shels the perfect start after seven minutes, his first league goal in red coming after an extended goalmouth scramble. Paddy Kavanagh swung in a corner and David Cassidy headed the ball towards goal. It took a few attempts but eventually Byrne was able to stab the ball in.
Six minutes later Rovers were equal, through an almost identical goal at the other end. This time Gary Twigg was the scorer after another frantic scramble around the goal, Billy Dennehy the taker of the corner and Graham Gartland the man who first headed the ball at goal.
The sending off of Anto Murphy on 18 minutes for a lunging tackle on Conor Powell gave the Hoops a signal to push on in search of another goal, but Shels proved to be much more difficult to break down than they were in Tallaght the last time the two sides met.
Alan Mathews adapted to the sending off by deploying Philly Hughes as a lone striker and bringing on midfielder Conan Byrne for the goalscorer. This prompted Stephen Kenny to take off full-back Kerrea Gilbert for Chris Turner- moving Conor McCormack to Gilbert's position.
Despite Rovers pushing more men forward, the home side were able to hold on and mount attacks of their own. Ian Ryan was forced to make a hurried clearance a yard off the Reds line after Kerrea Gilbert crossed from deep just before he went off.
But Shels had the best chances of the half, even after they went down to ten men. Paddy Kavanagh had two long-range shots saved, and Conan Byrne went agonisingly close just before the break with a rasping effort from 30-yards out.
Byrne again went close just after half time with Oscar Jansson saving a close-range header after a fine Reds move. The visitors always looked like coming into the match though, and gradually they began to assert themselves more.
The Hoops could have taken the lead on a few occasions, with Gary McCabe's free-kick just outside the Shels box the best of them. The one-time Shels man struck the free well but it fell wide of Dean Delany's goal.
Shelbourne still looked threatening on the break, with Phily Hughes and Kevin Dawson in particularly menacing form. It was Hughes who gave Shels the lead with a spectacular individual goal after 64 minutes.
Dawson fed the ball to Hughes inside the Rovers box and the striker evaded four tackles before slotting the ball calmly past Jansson. It didn't take long at all for the scores to be levelled though, with McCabe scoring just four minutes later.
McCabe drove the ball low at goal from 30 yards out, but it needed a big deflection to wrongfoot Dean Delany and go in. That goal was seemed to give Rovers the impetus they needed, with the league champions going all out for the win.
As Shels tired a bit more, Rovers' numerical advantage came into play more. The goal which broke the deadlock for a third time needed its fair share of luck to go in. It was a case of right place, right time as McCabe's wayward shot hit Twigg's shin and went in past a helpless Delany.
It looked like there could be another twist in the tale as Shels piled forward in the late stages of the match, but Rovers didn't look like conceding another and that Twigg goal on 79 minutes was the deciding one in the end.
Shelbourne: Dean Delany; Brian Shortall, Ian Ryan, Stephen Paisley, Barry Clancy (Stephen Hurley 83); Anto Murphy, Kevin Dawson, David Cassidy (c), Paddy Kavanagh; Paul Byrne (Conan Byrne 30), Philly Hughes.
Subs Not Used: Paul Skinner, Gareth Matthews, Andy Boyle, Sean Byrne, Brendan McGill.
Yellow Cards: Cassidy (80).
Red Cards: A Murphy (18).
Shamrock Rovers: Oscar Jansson; Kerrea Gilbert (Chris Turner '35), Graham Gartland, Ken Oman, Conor Powell; Gary McCabe, Conor McCormack, Ronan Finn, Billy Dennehy; Gary O'Neill (Aaron Greene '69), Gary Twigg.
Subs Not Used: Reyaad Pieterse, Colin Hawkins, Craig Sives, Stephen O'Donnell, Daryl Kavanagh.
Yellow Cards: Dennehy (15), Gilbert (23), Gartland (62), McCormack (69).
Referee: Tom Connolly.
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Gary McCabe.