Europa League Preview: Shamrock Rovers -v- SK Brann

Thu, Jul 18 2019

Jack Byrne and the returning Aaron McEneff have emerged as key players in the Rovers midfield. Credit: Michael P Ryan (ETPhotos)

SHAMROCK ROVERS

Shamrock Rovers carry a slender advantage into the second leg after taking two away goals home from the draw away with SK Brann last Thursday (kick-off 8pm).

An own goal and an injury-time header earned the Hoops a draw after Taijo Tiemeste and Veton Berisha had twice put the Norwegians in front in the first half.

Both sides had chances to add to their tallies in the second half but Stephen Bradley will be the happier manager as avoiding defeat in Tallaght will likely be enough to progress.

“It's always nice to score a goal at any stage but obviously to score late was important. I felt we deserved it.” Bradley told the club’s media team.

“Our play on the night deserved at least a draw. You have to consider you're away from home in Europe and you're against a good side so you have to be happy with the result.”

He added: “It doesn't matter to us if people look at us as favourites now. What we have to understand is that we're playing a very good side.

“It's going to be a difficult game but I said before the first leg it's a tie that we fully believe we can win and nothing changes that. We still have to go and win this game.

“There's no other way of approaching it and they'll obviously think the same. You can't sit in against a team like this.

“If you do that you're asking for trouble and you're going to get punished.”

Bradley welcomed back Aaron McEneff from a spell out with injury last Thursday, but new signing Neil Farrugia remains another week from coming into contention.

SK BRANN

SK Brann expect to take a heft cohort of around 140 fans to Brann, along with any of the Bergen club’s fans who happen to live in Ireland.

Despite leading twice in Bergen last week, the Norwegians conceded two costly away goals, including Roberto Lopes’ second equaliser deep in injury time.

It means Brann must, at the very least, score in Tallaght and, in all likelihood, will need to win the game outright to progress.

“We were better in the first half, but after an hour they very much took over,” goalkeeper Hakon Opdal told the club’s website.

“We must study why that happened and try to avoid it in the return game.

“It is of course also annoying that they get a corner and score in overtime since we know that they are partic/ularly good at set pieces.

“Shamrock Rovers is a good football team and then we must be extra well prepared. We have shown that we are good away, so we should bring confidence when we go over.

“I think we have good a good chance of progressing. We must be a little more patient both defensively and offensively, and we need to get a little more around their backline.”

Brann have not provided any team news ahead of the second leg.

Referee: Kari Jóannesarson Á Høvdanum

MATCH STATS

This is the third meeting between Shamrock Rovers and SK Brann and the second to take place at Tallaght Stadium.

Before last Thursday’s first leg, the only time the sides had faced each other was in a 2015 pre-season friendly in Tallaght.

Stephen Bradley was Pat Fenlon’s assistant that day as goals from Keith Fahey and Danny North and an own goal from Andreas Vindheim earned the Hoops a 3-2 win.

BETTING

Shamrock Rovers 9/5; Draw 21/10; SK Brann 13/10.

PREDICTION

Shamrock Rovers 2 – 0 SK Brann

Shamrock Rovers

Injured: Neil Farrugia (hamstring).

Doubtful: None.

Suspended: None.

SK Brann

Injured: Unavailable.

Doubtful: Unavailable.

Suspended: None.