Shamrock Rovers 0 Derry City 2
Photo Credit: Kevin Moore
Second half goals from Aaron McEneff and Barry McNamee saw Derry notch up a fourth consecutive win and leave Tallaght with all three points, to put eight points between themselves and the chasing pack in the race for the European spots.
City made two changes to their starting line up, with Rory Holden replacing the suspended Nicky Low and Ben Doherty replacing Dean Jarvis. Rovers started Lee Grace in the heart of defence, following his recent move from Galway United as both side had the eye on all three points in the European race. City came into the back after three wins and three clean sheets, whilst Rovers wer seeking to bounce back from last week’s home derby defeat to Bohemians.
City started the brighter but in truth the game failed to ignite in the opening twenty minutes as both sides sought to probe for their opposition weakness. The Shamrock Rovers support paid their own tribute to the passing of Ryan McBride with a standing ovation in the fifth minute. McBride scored the winner when City visited the same venue earlier season and his image loomed large from one of many flags displayed by the City support in the away end.
Brandon Miele created the first real chance with a one-two to himself, creating space but he fired widely over. Opening exchanges, the game came to life after the half hour mark. Curtis drove down the right and his cross was flicked on by Patterson but flew wide of the post. Curtis drew the first save from Checinski moments later with an effort from the edge of the box. McEneff drew a superb scrambling save from the Rovers keeper from a free, the midfielder opting to shoot when many were expecting a cross. Rovers showed that they were here to play as well, with McAllister driving wide from 25 yards. However the home side had the best chance of the half when a good move sent Finn away inside the box, but from a narrow angle he screwed his effort across the face of goal and wide.
Stephen Bradley had instructed his side to press high and Rovers went man to man, cutting off Gerard Doherty’s options from the short kick outs. The home side were very much in the driving stage in the opening stages of the second period. Miele went cross before Burke fired from distance with a deflection from Cole leaving Doherty. Luckily for Derry, the ball bounced wide the post and away for a corner.
Rory Holden was struggling to influence the game and Shiels opted to rejig his formation, bringing Jarvis off the bench and moving Ben Doherty into midfield. A couple of minutes later, his decision paid off when his side hit the front. McEneff picked the ball up near half way and despite having scored twice against Rovers this season, was allowed to move forward unchecked. The midfielder looked up and let fly, with his shot catching Checinski flat footed and giving City the lead.
With a lead now established, Harry Monaghan was introduced to bolster the midfield presence for Ben Doherty. Whilst Rovers pushed forward, the City defence held firm and there were few moments of genuine concern in the visitors defence. Patterson could have doubled the lead but Byrne did well to block his shot, whilst Simon Madden went to ground inside the Derry area but the referee waved away all the protests. City were happy to cede all the territory until half way, but as soon as the home side crossed into the City half, the tackling and tracking from those in red and white was ferocious.
Curtis had a glorious chance to wrap the game up after a lung bursting run over 70 yards but he opted to try and shoot when he had two team mates un marked inside the box. As the match drew to a close, Rovers threw on Boyd and O’Connor to try and offer more attacking threat. Shaw’s header clipped the outside of the post after a delightful ball from Burke. In injury time, Rovers keep er Checinski went forward for a corner. The ball was cleared and a clumsy touch from the Canadian gifted the ball to McNamee just inside the Rovers half. With the keeper sprinting to get back, McNamee showed ice cool nerves to set himself and lob it home to make it two nil.