Dundalk finally concede first goal of the season but claim narrow victory over Hoops

Robbie Benson and Chris Shields were on target for the home side, while Dan Carr became the first man to penetrate the Lilywhites defence this term.

Robbie Benson celebrates their opener.
Robbie Benson celebrates their opener.
Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Dundalk 2
Shamrock Rovers 1

Ben Blake reports from Oriel Park 

STEPHEN KENNY’S DUNDALK moved top of the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division table — temporarily, at least — after edging out Shamrock Rovers tonight.

Two goals early in the second half did the damage at Oriel Park as Robbie Benson and Chris Shields got on the score sheet.

Hoops goalkeeper Kevin Horgan will be kicking himself for the second, in particular, after letting what should have been an easy collection roll beyond him.

Dan Carr pulled one back for Rovers — the first league goal the Lilywhites have conceded in nine attempts — to ensure an exciting finale for the 3,056 present, but it ended 2-1.

Gabriel Sava deputised in the Dundalk goal as regular number one Gary Rogers was suffering from a calf injury.

The visitors had Sean Boyd and Joey O’Brien both injured, while Ally Gilchrist was available again after serving a one-match suspension for his red card in the defeat to Waterford, but the Scot had to settle for a place on the bench.

Sean Kavanagh got a some joy down Rovers’ left in the opening minutes, and Sava cleanly caught his ball into the danger zone.

Moments later, the former Fulham man came close. Rovers broke from their own half through skipper Ronan Finn, whose deep cross found Kavanagh but he could only side-foot a volley the wrong side of the post.

While Patrick Hoban collected the ball 25 yards out from goal and fired over, Finn was lively against his former club during the opening exchanges. His superb run was picked out by Bolger’s long ball, and the former Lilywhites midfielder touched it around the onrushing Sava, but Sean Gannon recovered well to hack behind for a corner.

Dundalk were guilty of wasting a glorious opportunity on 26 minutes. Michael Duffy did brilliantly to get onto the end of Benson’s through-ball and cut it back for Patrick Hoban. With the goal at his mercy, however, the striker struck the crossbar.

Kavanagh rattled the back of the net and visiting fans thought they had scored as half-time approached, but the referee’s assistant ruled it out for offside. Dundalk broke immediately, and the attack resulted in Duffy crashing a header off the upright after connecting with Gannon’s perfectly-flighted cross.

Patrick Hoban hits the crossbar with a strike on goal Patrick Hoban's header crashes off the crossbar. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

A goal was coming for the men from Louth and they didn’t have to wait long after the restart as, seven minutes into the second half, Benson won possession from Bolger and drove forward before offloading to Hoban.

His low shot was parried by Horgan and Benson bundled the ball over the line.

One soon became two as the hosts doubled their advantage after a mistake from the Hoops goalkeeper. Shields sent a tame cross over from wide and Bolger left the ball for Horgan to take, but, instead, the former Galway United stopper allowed it to trickle in.

Stephen Bradley sent on Brandon Miele and Gary Shaw as they looked to get off the mark, and it was the former’s set-piece that led to them halving the deficit on 75 minutes. Tireless work by Carr earned Rovers a corner, and he then flicked home a header at the near post from Miele’s delivery.

That goal gave the away side a huge boost in confidence and Sava then had to save from Shaw and Burke — touching the second effort onto the bar — before the full-time whistle blew.

DUNDALK: Gabriel Sava; Sean Gannon, Daniel Cleary, Stephen Folan, Dane Massey (captain); Chris Shields, Robbie Benson; Jamie McGrath (Stephen O’Donnell 76), Krisztian Adrojan (John Mountney 65), Michael Duffy; Patrick Hoban (Marco Tagbajumi 82).

SHAMROCK ROVERS: Kevin Horgan; Ethan Boyle, Roberto Lopes, Lee Grace, Luke Byrne (Brandon Miele 69); Greg Bolger, Ronan Finn (captain), Joel Coustrain (Gary Shaw 74), Sean Kavanagh, Graham Burke, Dan Carr.

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Ben Blake

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