Colman Stanley reports from Tallaght Stadium
Bohemians beat nine man Shamrock Rovers with a 1-0 victory in a dramatic affair in Tallaght on Tuesday night.
It was a hugely controversial first half with two sending offs for the home side, while Dinny Corcoran scored the only goal of the game when he slotted home the rebound after Alan Mannus had saved his initial penalty attempt.
The Hoops were hoping to put on a show for their fans in the most anticipated game of the season and to continue their magnificent start to the league.
The crowd of 6,414 was record for a league game in Tallaght Stadium and they saw Rovers winning run of eight league wins in a row come to an end with a first home defeat of the season.
Stephen Bradley chose to keep the same starting XI from last Friday’s impressive 1-0 away win to Derry City.
Bohs were looking to close the gap on Rovers who they trailed by eight points albeit with a game in hand.
Manager Keith Long made two changes to the starting line up from last Friday’s 3-0 victory over UCD. He welcomed back captain Derek Pender and Rob Cornwall into his team.
It was a cagey but intense opening to the game with neither side able to create any clear cut chances in the opening ten minutes.
The game came to life when Ronan Finn managed to get a flick on from Jack Byrne’s free-kick. The ball came off the bar and Bohemians were able to clear.
Soon after, James Talbot was forced to make an excellent save to deny Aaron McEneff, after the midfielder was played into the box by Dylan Watts.
Danny Grant was causing the home side huge problems with his pace down the right and was pulled down just outside the box by Trevor Clarke, while on a penetrating run towards goal.
Referee Paul McLaughlin deemed Clarke to be the last man and showed him a red card. However, it was a poor decision from the referee with replays showing that Roberto Lopes was coming across to cut out the danger. It wasn’t to be McLaughlin’s only controversial call of the game.
From the ensuing free-kick, Danny Mandroiu sent his shot just inches over the cross bar.
Ten minutes later Keith Buckley found himself in the box with time and space on the ball. Lee Grace slid across to block the shot, and while he succeeded in doing so, the referee deemed that he had used his right arm, with the player clearly aggrieved motioning that the ball had hit his face.
Having already received a yellow card earlier in the game, McLoughlin brandished another card and the Hoops were down to nine men on 37 minutes.
Alan Mannus brilliantly saved Dinny Corcoran’s penalty attempt but the striker was able to tuck away the rebound to put his side ahead with Mannus picking up a knock in the goal mouth scramble. After lenghty treatment the former Northern Ireland international goalkeeper was able to continue.
Bohs tried their best to take advantage of the situation in the second half but were frustratingly only able to create half chances for Grant and Danny Mandroiu, while Buckley should have done better when his headed attempt went wide.
After the Hoops weathered this initial storm, they found a second wind for themselves lead by the energy of substitute Dan Carr.
He forced Talbot into making a good save at his near post, before Roberto Lopes’ lobbed attempt went just wide.
Rovers pressed hard for an equaliser but were ultimately unsuccessful. At the other end of the pitch, substitute Ali Reghba broke clear but he was unable to hit the target.
Bohemians will be delighted with victory in the derby, their second over Rovers this season (which are the only losses for the Hoops in the league in this campaign).
The Gypsies close the gap to five points to Rovers and they have a game in hand on the league leaders.. After the win their fans stayed behind to chant ominously, “We’re coming for you”.
Rovers can take comfort in the fact they remain at the top, but the title race is well and truly on after that result.
Shamrock Rovers: Alan Mannus; Trevor Clarke, Lee Grace, Roberto Lopes, Joey O’Brien; Sean Kavanagh, Jack Byrne (Brandon Kavanagh 88), Ronan Finn (Joel Coustrain 83), Aaron McEneff, Dylan Watts (Dan Carr 71); Aaron Greene.
Subs not used: Leon Pohls, James Furlong, Dean Dillon, Orhan Vojic.
Booked: Lee Grace (3 and 37), Ronan Finn (75).
Sent off: Trevor Clarke (26), Lee Grace (37).
Bohemians: James Talbot, James Finnerty, Rob Cornwall, Daragh Leahy, Derek Pender, Kevin Devaney, Keith Buckley, Conor Levingston, Daniel Mandroiu (Ali Reghba 90), Dinny Corcoran, Danny Grant (Keith Ward 66).
Subs not used: Aaron Barry, Robbie McCourt, Andy Lyons, Ryan Swan.
Booked: James Finnerty (31).
Referee: Paul McLaughlin
ExtraTime.ie Man of the Match: Danny Grant (Bohemians)