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Dublin: 7°C Tuesday 26 January 2021
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Shamrock Rovers 0-0 Bray

Dundalk 0-0 Derry City

Shelbourne 0-1 Drogheda United

Hello, and welcome to this evening’s liveblog.

Normally Shamrock Rovers would be firm favourites to secure three points in this fixture, but their recent indifferent form makes the outcome of tonight’s game far less certain.

Here are your teams:

Shamrock Rovers: Oskar Jannson, Colin Hawkins, Ken Oman, Conor Powell, Pat Sullivan, Billy Dennehy, Ronan Finn, Stephen O’Donnell, Chris Turner, Daryl Kavanagh, Gary O’Neill.
Bray Wanderers: Darren Quigley, Shane O’Connor, Danny O’Connor, Adam Mitchell, Dane Massey, Dean Zambra, Kevin O’Connor, John Mulroy, Sean Houston, Adam Hanlon, Jason Byrne.

We’re underway…

Daryl Kavanagh makes a positive run into the box, but Conor Powell marginally overhits his through ball.

Moments, later Kavanagh makes a beautiful turn to evade two opposition players, but his weak shot is comfortably saved by Darren Quigley.

Kavanagh has been out of favour at Rovers recently, but he certainly looks up for the game this evening.

Eoin Hand has just compared Rovers to Spain.

That’s obviously an exaggeration, nonetheless they have been playing some nice football in these opening stages.

However, as I type, a clever one-two catches the Rovers defence napping, sending Kevin O’Connor through on goal in the process, but he blasts it wastefully over, when he would have been expected to hit the target at the least.

For all the positives Rovers can take from their start, they were fortunate in that instance.

Not much to report on in the last few minutes. Bray are playing a quite defensive style, with a five-man midfield, and Rovers are finding it increasingly difficult to break them down

Nevertheless, as a type, Ronan Finn produces a swerving shot that Quigley punches unconvincingly away from goal. Judging by replays, the Bray goalkeeper made that look more difficult than it should have been to save.

Kavanagh’s ambitious long ball has just too much pace for Gary O’Neill to latch on to. The former has looked Rovers’ most creative and threatening player thus far, perhaps somewhat surprisingly, given his lack of game time this season.

Great work down the left wing by Billy Dennehy to lose his marker and put the cross in, and O’Neill’s glancing header goes just wide.

Rovers have started to look a bit more threatening in the last few minutes.

Bray are having a nice spell, showing good composure throughout their team to keep hold of the ball.

Indeed, the willingness of both sides to keep the ball on the ground as often as possible has been refreshing to see.

Meanwhile, Pat Devlin tells RTE that his side “haven’t really got going yet”.

Ronan Finn drills a dangeous ball across the face of the goal, but Shane O’Connor does just enough to put off the opposition striker, who blazes it over from close range.

Ken Oman goes down with what looks to be a hamstring injury, and has consequently been replaced by Conor McCormack.

As a result, Pat Sullivan is forced to move to centre half alongside Colin Hawkins.

Another Rovers substitution through injury, with Killian Brennan replacing Stephen O’Donnell.

Rovers, who made five changes prior to the game owing to their midweek European excursion, could have done without these further problems.

Unsurprisingly, the flow of the game has been significantly disrupted, owing to those numerous stoppages caused by the recent abundance of injuries and substitutions. Just under three minutes (plus what will no doubt be a lengthy amount of stoppage time) until half-time.

Rovers earn their ninth corner of the first half, and yet I can’t recall one instance when they actually threatened from a set piece, and they fail to do so in this instance as well – it’s something they’ll surely need to work on on the training pitch during the week.

HALF-TIME: SHAMROCK ROVERS 0-0 BRAY

At half-time, Bray will undoubtedly be the happier of the two sides. While they’ve seen little of the ball in the Rovers half, they’ve been very impressive from a defensive viewpoint, stifling Rovers’ attack on a consistent defence, to such an extent that it’s difficult to recall one clear-cut chance that the home side had in the opening 45 minutes.

Rovers will therefore need to attack with an increased tempo and greater creativity in order to break down this stubborn Bray defence, while perhaps involving Daryl Kavanagh more often, as he’s looked their most threatening player when he’s been given the ball.

On account of their admirably dogged display though, the visitors deserve to be level going in at the break.

We’re underway in the second half…

Kavanagh continues to look impressive, beating his marker and winning a free-kick on the edge of the box, which is subsequently blocked down by charging Bray players who look nowhere near the required distance of 10 yards. The ref waves play on nonetheless.

Bray’s passing is becoming more careless as the game progresses. Perhaps Rovers can capitalise on their seemingly increasing levels of tiredness.

Meanwhile, an inch-perfect cross finds Kavanagh, but the striker can only direct his header straight into the goalkeeper’s arms.

Elsewhere tonight, Drogheda’s fine season continues, as Cathal Brady gives them the lead against Shels.

We’ll have full reports on the other two Airtricity League games up on the site later this evening.

Somewhat surprisingly, Rovers’ third and final substitution involves Daryl Kavanagh being replaced by Gary McCabe. The former has looked like one of their better players this evening.

Shortly thereafter, a terrific run and cross from Billy Dennehy finds Gary O’Neill, who hits it narrowly wide with his instep.

Bray get a rare chance, but Massey’s free kick on the edge of the box hits the wall.

Rovers break quickly, but McCabe fails in an attempt to find the onrushing Billy Dennehy with his cross.

Wonderful header by Jason Byrne, after a swift Bray break. Despite being some distance away from goal, Jannson is forced to palm the striker’s effort away for a corner.

Jason Byrne again comes to within an inch of giving Bray the lead. After being found by a beautiful ball through, he takes one touch, before blasting it narrowly to the wrong side of the post.

Brilliant strike from Gary McCabe, whose curling shot rockets off the crossbar and away to safety.

Shortly thereafter, Finn makes a strong, bursting run into the box, and subsequently earns his side a corner.

Again though, a Rovers set piece comes to nothing, as the referee blows up for an infringement with the ball in mid-flight.

With ten minutes left, the game is beginning to look more open, with both sides threatening.

Jonathan Kelty replaces Adam Hanlon for Bray, with the latter clearly in no rush whatsoever to leave the field.

Brennan hits a wayward pass under littler pressure, as Rovers’ midweek action ostensibly begins to catch up on them.

They look desperately short of ideas, with injury time approaching.

Ismahil Akinade comes on for Bray to make his debut for the club in the dying stages, replacing Jason Byrne, who has put in a tireless shift this evening.

Meanwhile, RTE’s Eoin Hand names Bray goalkeeper Darren Quigley as the Man of the Match.

Clever defending there from Bray’s Shane O’Connor, as Finn is prevented from meeting a dangerous cross, but is subtly blocked off in a manner that isn’t blatant enough for the referee to award a penalty.

FULL-TIME: SHAMROCK ROVERS 0-0 BRAY

“We want Kenny out,” appears to be chant from a section of the Rovers support as the final whistle sounds.

Talk in the week from some of their players of the side having “turned a corner” appears to have been somewhat premature.

So Rovers stumble again, as Bray earn a much deserved point.

While the hosts dominated the possession and territory for much of the game, they never attacked their opponents with any real conviction. Consequently, their lack of incision in the attacking department has put another dent in their title hopes, and they’re now nine points behind Sligo, who have a game in hand.

Bray, on the other hand, will be far more satisfied with their display. Their disciplined defensive performance earned them the result that they were set up for, while they could have even won the game ultimately, had Jason Byrne’s powerful strike been an inch or two further to the right of the post.

Right, that’s it from me for this evening. Thanks for your company. And don’t forget to check out the site later this evening, when we’ll have reports on tonight’s other two Airtricity League matches.

About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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