Report: Ryan McMullen

Frustration for Rovers as they let lead slip twice to see spoils shared in Tallaght.

With his side looking to bounce back from a frustrating defeat at home to Waterford on Monday, Head Coach Stephen Bradley made one change to the team from that match, with Neil Farrugia coming in to the starting eleven for the first time since he returned from a shoulder injury – taking the place of Trevor Clarke, who dropped to the bench.

Graham Burke was also named among the substitutes, making a welcome return to the matchday squad after sustaining a knock that kept him out of action in recent weeks.

On a bright evening in Tallaght, Rovers got off to a bright start – SSE Airtricity/Soccer Writers Ireland Player of the Month for April Aaron Greene broke the deadlock after just 4 minutes of play. Greene was there to intercept a poor attempt at a pass back from Brandon Kavanagh, before driving with pace towards goal and firing a shot with his left that found the back of the net off the right post.

And Greene was involved again shortly after, this time teeing up Johnny Kenny who was unable to convert past Rogers.

Greene himself could have doubled our lead when he made his way into the box and shifted the ball onto his right foot and released a strike which was denied by a strong hand stuck out by the diving ‘keeper. Neil Farrugia followed up but was again denied by Rogers, with Pat’s’ defence able to clear their lines.

Against the run of play, the visitors found an equaliser midway through the first half. A Brandon Kavanagh free kick from the left was whipped towards the back post where Luke Turner was left unmarked to head past Pohls from close range.

At the other end, Johnny Kenny had an effort palmed away by Rogers as the Hoops looked for a quick reaction to the concession.

It was the Hoops that controlled the game for large parts during the early stages and had the chances to be 3 ahead, but the visitors were able to settle and enjoyed spells on-top following their goal.

Pat’s came close, with another Kavanagh free-kick putting pressure on the Hoops defence, with Luke Turner once again on the end of a set piece but this time couldn’t direct his header on target.

As the teams made their way in at half-time it remained a goal apiece. The home side certainly felt they could have been ahead given their early dominance, and would look to show similar quality in the 45 minutes that were to follow.

Just before the hour-mark, Rovers restored their lead. In what was almost a carbon copy of the goal they conceded in the first half,. Dan Cleary found himself unmarked at the back post to head home a Conan Noonan delivery from left to put the Hoops ahead.

The goal gave Stephen Bradley an opportunity to make some substitutions, opting to bring on Darragh Burns and Jack Byrne for Sean Kavanagh and Conan Noonan, with 30 minutes remaining.

But the Hoops would suffer another setback when Mason Melia raced through to a ball played over the top before lobbing the advancing Pohls to level the scores.

Pat’s almost found a winner through substitute Kian Leavy, from the edge of the box he hammered at goal – Leon Pohls produced a superb save to push the effort over the woodwork.

At the other end the Hoops had chances of their own to secure all three points. A diving Darragh Burns header was tipped over the crossbar by Rogers before Nugent struck a powerful effort from the edge of the box that Rogers got down to gather.

Rovers would face another potential setback on the injury front when Burns had to make his way off the pitch not long after his introduction – Trevor Clarke replacing him for the closing stages.

The wing-back would effectively have the final chance of the game, but failed to direct his effort on target after the ball fell to him at the edge of the box.

Just after, Referee Paul McLaughlin blew his whistle to mark full-time, and the match was to finish level.

A frustrating night for the Hoops who will be disappointed to have taken the lead twice but failed to secure the three points on home soil. Bradley’s side will now regroup though, as focus quickly turns to next Friday’s meeting with Dundalk at Oriel Park, with kick-off set for 7:45 pm.

Shamrock Rovers: Pohls, Farrugia, Cleary, Lopes ©, Honohan, Kavanagh (Burns 60’ (Clarke 90+5’), Poom, Noonan (Byrne 60’), Nugent, Greene, Kenny (Burke 75’). 

Shamrock Rovers unused substitutes: Steacy, Leitis, Barrett, J O’Sullivan, C O’Sullivan.

St Patrick’s Athletic: Rogers, Keeley, Redmond ©, Turner, Breslin, Kavanagh (Leavy 60’), Lennon, Bolger, Forrester, Keating (Mulraney 60’), Melia (Nolan 90’).

St Patrick’s Athletic unused substitutes: Pitaluga, Freeman, McClelland, Kavanagh, Pettifer, Palmer.

Referee: Paul McLaughlin