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UCD 1 - 2 Shamrock Rovers

Corry 14 Chambers 8, Twigg 85

Airtricity League, Premier Division
Friday 14 May 2010

By Brian de Salvo

They came from all corners, from the group of Germans who arrived at 5.30pm to the Development Officer from Maltese club Hibernians who rang me from within the stadium having retrieved my mobile number from his wife in Moscow. But most of them came wearing green as Shamrock Rovers fans swelled the gate of over fourteen hundred, the biggest at the Bowl this season. They were rewarded with a fast moving encounter that ebbed and flowed and left with three points thanks to a late goal from Gary Twigg.

Twigg had scored in the EASports Cup tie between these clubs four days earlier, registering the winning goal in the ninth minute. This time Rovers opened their account a minute earlier but it was midfielder James Chambers who obliged. The visiting fans and manager Michael O’Neill were vocal in their disapproval of some of referee Declan Hanney’s decisions during the game but he was on the mark here, bringing the play back following Bolger’s foul on Bradley when no advantage to the Hoops followed his attempt to keep the game moving. Chambers’ exquisite 25 yard free curled round the Students wall and past the outstretched left hand of Brennan.

It had been a bright start for Rovers with Murphy and Dennehy combining well on the left flank but UCD equalised just six minutes later. Kavanagh gifted the ball, KIlduff pounced to send Paul Corry in and his shot deflected off the unfortunate Kavanagh to give Mannus in the Shamrock Rovers goal no chance.

Dennehy was one of three Rovers changes from Monday’s game. He came in for O’Connor with Bradley and Turner, who passed a fitness test, replacing Rice and Bayly. UCD’s side was transformed as manager Russell restored his first choice squad with only keeper Brennan and Brian Shortall starting in both the week’s matches. Shortall, high profile throughout, blocking, tackling, chasing, almost got a point UCD may think they deserved in the final minutes of added time but his long range drive whistled just over the bar.

Following the equaliser, the home side took the initiative with Bolger going close before Wilson set off on a speedy run that took him past two defenders. It was left to Rovers skipper Dan Murray to avert disaster. Then it was Kilduff’s turn to be thwarted by Murray. But he got a head to the resulting corner, Students’ skipper Evan McMillan headed that for goal, forcing a save from Mannus. The keeper was soon in action again, tipping Kilduff’s header from Wilson’s cross over. And some frenzied activity in the Rovers goalmouth saw Chambers and then Murphy head over their own bar to relieve the pressure. At the other end Brennan had to look sharp to snatch Dennehy’s canny cross off Twigg’s toe.

But after the second half restart it was Rovers’ turn to turn the screw. Seven minutes in to the second period Brennan was forced to dive to parry Chambers’ shot, the loose ball dropping tantalisingly just behind Dennehy in front of goal. And on 65 minutes Brennan made a brilliant reaction save to divert Turner’s close range header over.

But there was nothing the young keeper could do about Twigg’s winner in the eighty fifth minute, the striker taking advantage of Dessie Baker’s flicked header on to crack the ball into the net. It was Twigg’s sixth goal in eight games. He was anonymous for most of this match but showed how a real predator operates when he finally got an opportunity.

UCD: Billy Brennan; Sean Harding, Evan McMillan, Andy Boyle, Brian Shortall; Paul Corry, Greg Bolger, Chris Mulhall; Dwayne Wilson (Shane Fitzgerald 72), Ciaran Kilduff (Robbie Creevy 72), David McMillan.

SHAMROCK ROVERS: Alan Mannus; Pat Flynn, Craig Sives, Dan Murray, Danny Murphy; Paddy Kavanagh (Sean O’Connor 61), Stephen Bradley, James Chambers, Chris Turner (Dessie Baker 67), Billy Dennehy (Thomas Stewart 77).

Referee: Declan Hanney.