Shamrock Rovers and Shelbourne played out an eventful 2-2 draw at the Tallaght Stadium tonight and if it wasn’t for Craig Sive’s late intervention the visitors would have come away with all the points.
Despite the fact that Shels started the game brightly and went on the attack from the kick off, it was the home team who created the first real chance of the game in the 7th minute. Ronan Finn crossed from the left and picked out Ciaran Kilduff who headed across goal but the ball ended up just past the post.
In the 24th minute Rovers had a chance on the counter attack. Craig Sives played a quick ball out to Killduff. The Hoop’s number 11 played it to his left where he found the onrushing Gary McCabe. McCabe got his shot in but the effort was weak and Chris Bennion made a comfortable save.
The home side did manage to take the lead in the 27th minute. Paddy Kavanagh gave the ball away in the Rovers half. Ronan Finn picked up possession and played it to Tommy Stewart. Stewart played a ball in behind the Shelbourne defence. Kilduff beat the offside trap and rounded the onrushing Chris Bennion before putting the ball into an empty net.
There could have been a second goal for the champions ten minutes later. Captain Stepehen Rice played a lovely one two with the busy Kilduff before hitting an instant shot which forced Bennion to dive smartly to his left to make the save.
Stephen Kenny's side had most of the play in the first half, and while they didn't create too many clear cut chances in the opening 45 minutes, they deservedly went in a goal to the good at the break.
Shelbourne equalised out of nothing in the 52nd minute. Similar to the opening goal, the visitors got back into the game after a mistake from their opponents. After Shamrock Rovers gave the ball away David
Cassidy played a lovely reverse pass and picked out the onrushing Paddy Kavanagh who made up for his mistake in the first half by coolly slotting it past Oscar Jansson into the net.
Chances were few and far between as the second half went on. Philip Gorman had a shot for Shels which was deflected over, while Andy Boyle's back pass just went past his own post at the other end.
However in the 77th minute the visitors scored again after another Rovers mistake. Craig Sives tried to play it forward but David Cassidy closed him down and blocked his pass. The ball broke to Philip Gorman
and the Shels number 19 beautifully chipped it over Jansson to make it 2-1.
Alan Matthew's side led for just 5 minutes though. Rover’s number 7 Gary McCabe ran from his own half and passed it to the inform Ronan Finn. Finn raced towards goal and hit a right foot shot into the corner of the net to make it 2-2.
Gary O'Neill's shot was deflected into the arms of Bennion soon after but Shelbourne could have and should have won it late on. After Sean Byrne played a remarkable through ball Paddy Kavanagh was in on goal again. Kavanagh chipped it over Jansson and the ball would have gone into the net but for a brilliant and brave clearance by Craig Sives who did not have the best of games.
So an entertaining Dublin derby ended all square. Another home draw put another dent in Shamrock Rover’s title challenge, while Shelbourne will be happier with this result after losing at home to Derry in their last game. Both sides will meet again in the quarter final of the FAI Cup next Friday night in Tolka Park.
Shamrock Rovers: Oscar Jansson; Pat Sullivan, Colin Hawkins, Craig Sives, Conor Powell: Gary McCabe, Stephen Rice (c), Ronan Finn, Killian Brennan (Aaron Greene 68): Ciaran Kilduff (Gary Twigg 75), Thomas Stewart (Gary O'Neill 86).
Subs not used: Reyaad Pieterse, Conor McCormack, Ken Oman, Kerrea Gilbert.
Booked: McCabe (59), Sullivan (80).
Shelbourne: Chris Bennion; Ian Ryan, Stephen Paisley, Andy Boyle, Sean Byrne: Anto Murphy (Conan Byrne 68), Glen Cronin, Stephen Hurley,
David Cassidy (c) (Barry Clancy 87), Paddy Kavanagh: Philip Gorman (Philip Hughes).
Subs not used: Lorcan Fitzgerald, Paul Skinner, Barry Clancy, Paul Byrne, Stephen Sheeran.
Referee: Derek Tomney.
Attendance: 3,000 (estimate).
Extratime.ie man of the match: David Cassidy (Shelbourne).