Gary Twigg - scored for Rovers
St. Valentine’s Day for many can mean a trip away with the evening involving some candle light maybe in an intimate setting. Well for Shamrock Rovers, the candlelight was replaced by floodlight last night as the Stephen Kenny brought his team away to Belfast for a pre-season friendly against Glentoran.
It was the home side that claimed the victory with two second half goals that eclipsed Gary Twigg’s 37th minute effort for Shamrock Rovers. Whilst the Oval can’t be described as an intimate venue, it was a relatively quiet affair in the ground last night with around 80 Rovers fans making the trip up the M1 and double that supporting the home team.
Stephen Kenny deployed his side in a 4-4-2 formation against the team sitting sixth in the IFA Carling Premiership. It was Kenny’s team that created the best chances in the first half, threatening mostly from set pieces. Gary O’Neill, playing upfront with Gary Twigg, won a free kick after five minutes. Killian Brennan was the one to take the free and his shot just bounced wide of the post. A fine run from Gary McCabe three minutes later saw him step inside the full back but his curling right foot shot wouldn’t come down below the bar.
It was the home side that had the next set piece chance as Graham Gartland conceded a free just outside the penalty area. Aidan O’Kane fired it in for the Glens but Oskar Jansson, making his debut for Rovers, gathered it cleanly as it bounced low in front of him.
The conditions were blustery in the Oval as shown when Brennan had to re-spot the ball at a free kick blown loose in the wind from which the visitors won a corner. Gary McCabe swung it in dangerously across the six-yard box but nobody was on hand to finish it. Ronan Finn showed some neat footwork to give Twigg a chance but his shot, through the defenders legs, drifted wide of the post.
After 33 minutes, McCabe and Brennan were again standing over a free-kick in a dangerous position. This time it was McCabe’s opportunity to take a strike on goal but he curled the free over the bar. Less than five minutes later Rovers would take the lead from a corner. The goal came about as Stephen Rice picked up the ball in midfield with his delayed pass giving the full back Kerrea Gilbert the chance to get forward and win a corner. The corner eventually made its way into the box with a flick on to Gary Twigg’s feet. The Scotsman took his goal by neatly placing the ball by Aaron Hogg in the Glentoran goal from inside the six-yard box.
The Rovers team emerged unchanged in the second half but the scoreline would change just three minutes after the interval. Jim O’Hanlon showed some trickery to get by Conor Powell in the box but the assistant linesman flagged for a jersey pull giving Glentoran the chance to equalise from the penalty spot. Darren Boyce made no mistake drilling the penalty down the middle of the goal.
On 55 minutes Rovers conceded what looked like a soft free kick that was played quickly into the box by Aidan O’Kane. Richard Gibson made the most of the opportunity heading home to put Glentoran 2-1 in front.
There was a strong shout for a Rovers penalty of their own minutes later. Gartland sent a long ball for Gary Twigg to run on to. The striker did well to hook the ball back across goal. Hogg could only get fingertips to the ball and then collided with Gary O’Neill but the referee waved play on. Minutes later a fine move involving O’Neill, Rice and substitute Dennehy saw a Gary Twigg header fly just by the post.
With 20 minutes remaining, Daryl Kavanagh and Dean Kelly came on for Rovers and Kelly looked particularly lively in the final part of the game. His turn and right foot flick saw the ball lobbed just over the bar and then Dennehy forced Hobb from outside the box to hold onto the ball at full stretch.
Rovers applied pressure seeking the equaliser with a short corner from Dennehy worked to Kelly but Gary O’Neill couldn’t direct his header on goal from Hawkins’ flick. The final chance of the game fell to the home side with Jansson producing a top class save diving to his left and getting his right hand up to force away the thirty yard dipping shot from Gibson.
Report courtesy of Macdara Ferris