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Late, late own-goal hands Shamrock Rovers crucial win in title race

Nahum Melvin-Lambert put through his own goal in stoppage time as second-placed Pat’s were beaten 1-0.

Stephen Bradley celebrates Rovers' late winner with Sean Gannon, Dylan Watts and Gary O'Neill.
Stephen Bradley celebrates Rovers' late winner with Sean Gannon, Dylan Watts and Gary O'Neill.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Saint Patrick’s Athletic 0

Shamrock Rovers 1

“THAT’S WHY WE’RE champions” came the chant from the handful of travelling Shamrock Rovers at Richmond Park, and that’s why they’ll be champions again. 

Once again Rovers stole a win at Pat’s deep into the closing moments, this time from Nahum Melvin-Lambert’s own goal in the second minute of stoppage time. It’s a result that sends them nine points clear of their second-placed opponents. What’s more, Rovers have a game in hand and Pat’s are running out of games to catch up. 

The decisive moment was a nightmare for Pat’s substitute Melvin-Lambert, as he sent Dylan Watts’ late free-kick beyond his own goalkeeper.

Pat’s started with vigour, though didn’t create a good chance of note, with Jamie Lennon firing a shot from the edge of the penalty area wide of Alan Mannus’ right-hand post. 

Sam Bone started out of position at right-back and Rovers were determined to test him, frequently flighting cross-field passes to left wing-back Barry Cotter. Pat’s offside line generally held, though twice it was breached.

First Danny Mandroiu timed his run and saw a pull-back across the goal clumsily diverted behind for a corner by Paddy Barrett, and later Mandroiu volleyed over when he reacted fastest to Cotter’s cross from the endline. 

Cotter was Rovers’ main attacking outlet down the left wing but he was also dealing with Pat’s best option behind him: the electric Darragh Burns. 

patso-fans-set-off-flares Flares alight at Richmond Park. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Burns’ pace and direct running caused Rovers problems, and when he skated into the box and fell beneath a challenge from Roberto Lopes a howling Richmond Park turned their ire on the unmoved referee, Robert Hennessy. 

Rovers finished the first half in the ascendancy, pinning Pat’s back without truly testing Vitezslav Jaros. 

Pat’s almost profited from replicating Rovers’ tactic in the opening minutes of the second half when Bone hoisted a cross-field pass to Chris Forrester, who peeled off the back of Sean Gannon and planted a firm header just wide. A minute later Forrester’s connection let him down, miscuing Burns’ pull-back in front of goal. 

Forrester made way shortly after through injury, replaced by Billy King. 

Rovers hogged most of the ball but created little while Pat’s looked ever-threatening on the counter-attack. Burns’ clever lay-off sent Billy King sprinting down the right flank, and when his cross was half-cleared to Sam Bone, who saw a piledriver parried away by Mannus. 

Rovers swapped Gaffney and Cotter for Aaron Greene and Neil Farrugia, and, typically, the latter’s first involvement was to watch Burns breeze by. This time the cross was stood up to the back post, and there were unheeded shouts for handball against Richie Towell from Matty Smith’s header. 


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The game then almost instantly swung Rovers way: Aaron Greene was sent scarpering clear on goal, but saw a glorious one-on-one thwarted by Jaros. 

In a sign he was perhaps content with a point, Stephen Bradley withdrew Danny Mandroiu – the last-hasp hero when these sides met here earlier on the season – for Chris McCann.

Instead Rovers were invigorated, with Watts pushing further forward and causing havoc. He forced Jaros into a terrific double save as the clock ticked toward the 90-minute mark, and ultimately, it was his free-kick that forced a goal that had ramifications beyond just the winning of this match. 

Saint Patrick’s Athletic: Vitezslav Jaros; Sam Bone, James Abankwah (Shane Griffin, 62′), Paddy Barrett, Ian Bermingham (captain); Darragh Burns, Jamie Lennon (Ben McCormack, 83′), Alfie Lewis, Matty Smith; Chris Forrester (Billy King, 57′), Ronan Coughlan (Nahum Melvin-Lambert, 83′)

Shamrock Rovers: Alan Mannus; Sean Gannon, Roberto Lopes, Lee Grace; Ronan Finn (captain); Gary O’Neill, Dylan Watts; Barry Cotter (Neil Farrugia, 75;); Daniel Mandroiu (Chris McCann, 79′), Richie Towell; Rory Gaffney (Aaron Greene, 65′)

Referee: Rob Hennessy 

About the author:

Gavin Cooney  / reports from Richmond Park

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