Rovers 1:1 Partizan Belgrade
Thursday, 18 August 2011 19:00
Strong finish by Rovers levels the tie ...
Rovers 1 - McCabe 81'
Partizan Belgrade 1 - Tomic 14'
UEFA Europa League Play Off - 1st Leg
Tallaght Stadium - Thursday 18th August 2011
Hoops Line out
16 Ryan Thompson
2 Pat Sullivan
3 Enda Stevens
4 Craig Sives
5 Dan Murray (c)
7 Gary McCabe
21 Ronan Finn
22 Conor McCormack
20 Billy Dennehy
6 Steven Rice
9 Gary Twigg
18 Chris Turner for Finn ht
19 Gary O'Neill for
11 Ciaran Kilduff
for Rice 76'
19 Gary O'Neill
1 Richard Brush
13 Pat Flynn
24 Karl Moore
Gary McCabe...well taken equaliser
Having been lucky to only concede one goal in the first 20 minutes the Hoops put in a barnstorming finish and a stunning equaliser by Gary McCabe had Partizan on the ropes.
The Serbian Champions dominated the early stages and Tomic showed his talent from as early as the 3rd minute when his free-kick forced Ryan Thompson to tip the ball over the bar from all of 35 yards.
Although the visitors had most of the possession the Hoops were comfortably holding them at bay until the 14th minute when Jovancic spun away from Enda Stevens to cross low to the edge of the area and Tomic shot first time past the helpless Thompson.
Rovers were stunned and the same player went close again on 18 minutes when he latched on to a cross from the right to shoot narrowly wide. On 21 minutes Dan Murray misjudged the bounce of the ball and Jovancic raced clear but fortunately he shot just wide.
Sasa Ilic then saw his header saved by Thompson from Eduardo’s cross as Rovers somehow kept the score line to a single goal deficit.
The Hoops gradually came into the game and Dan Murray headed McCabe’s corner wide on 25 minutes. On 29 minutes Ronan Finn set up the lively McCabe to shoot not far over Stojkovic’s cross-bar. The giant Partizan ‘keeper then easily held Pat Sullivan’s long throw-in.
Dan Murray’s free-kick was met by the head of Craig Sives on 37 minutes but the ball wouldn’t fall for Gary Twigg in the area. After Stephen Rice won a free-lick two minutes later Billy Dennehy floated he ball goal wards but Rankovic conceded a corner and Dennehy’s delivery fell to Murray on the right of the area but his shot went just over.
The dying minutes of the half saw Jovancic dispossess McCormack but he was wasteful with his low cross and Gary Twigg was unlucky not to get on the end of Sullivan’s long ball.
Chris Turner replaced Ronan Finn at half-time and five minutes after the break Pat Sullivan made space for himself on the right but Rankovic headed clear. Partizan were knocking the ball around with confidence and Rovers were working hard to contain them no one more so than Conor McCormack.
Disaster almost hit the Hoops on 56 minutes when Ryan Thompson’s kick-out went straight to Jovancic and he bore down on goal but the Jamaican ‘keeper atoned for his error to save with his feet and the Tallaght faithful could breathe again.
Rovers were now seeing more of the ball and on 64 minutes Gary McCabe’s free-kick from just outside the box was met by Pat Sullivan and his glancing header forced ‘keeper Stojkovic to make a decent save.
The Hoops were taking the game to Partizan now and there was a big shout for handball in the area as Enda Stevens delivered a cross into the area after McCabes free-kick was cleared.
It wasn’t all one-way traffic as Dan Murray was called on to clear from sub Babovic’s low free-kick. Enda Stevens then did well to deny Jovancic a header on goal.
Chris Turner played Sullivan in down the right and fine play by the Hoops number two saw him in space in the box but his low cross was cleared for Gary McCabe to shoot only to see the ‘keeper push away his effort to safety.
On 81 minutes the goal finally came when McCabe ran at the Partizan defence from midfield and he played a one-two with Gary Twigg before slipping the ball between a defenders legs and coolly prodding the ball into the net.
Tallaght Stadium was rocking now and two minutes later a long throw-in by Pat Sullivan found its way to the back post and Gary O’Neill knocked the ball on for Gary Twigg who stretched to knock the ball just over the cross-bar.
The first minute of added-on time saw another Pat Sullivan throw-in cause havoc in the Partizan defence and the ball fell invitingly in front of goal but somehow a Serbian boot cleared the danger before Gary Twigg could get a touch on the ball.
The final whistle saw the Tallaght faithful give the Hoops a standing ovation after a pulsating finish to this Europa League play-off game.
Conor McCormack, great midfield display....picture by George Kelly