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Mandroiu double sends Rovers clear at the top with win over Pat's

The champions won the battle of the top two at Tallaght Stadium.

Daniel Mandroiu celebrates his second goal.
Daniel Mandroiu celebrates his second goal.
Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Shamrock Rovers 3

Saint Patrick’s Athletic 1

Dave Donnelly reports from Tallaght Stadium 

A DANNY MANDROIU brace saw Shamrock Rovers move clear at the top of the Premier Division as they came out on top of the battle of the top two at Tallaght Stadium.

The outstanding Dylan Watts was the architect of all three Rovers goals, having cued up Roberto Lopes to head the Hoops back in front after John Mountney had levelled on the stroke of half time.

For a spell it looked like Rovers would pay the price for a succession of missed chances – Mandroiu put two headers wide from close range – but they pushed through for a deserved three points.

The first half was slow to get going as a deluge of rain hampered both sides’ efforts to play progressive football, and a succession of fouls further disrupted the tempo.

Mandroiu’s opener, when it arrived 15 minutes before the break, was well worth waiting for as an outstanding Lee Grace pass from deep opened up a hole in Pat’s final third.

Watts picked up the ball with space to move into, and he picked out Mandroiu’s run from the left, and the midfielder picked his spot wonderfully past Vitezslav Jaros.

Mandroiu looked to have added his second shortly after as he was picked out in the box by captain Ronan Finn, but he steered his header just wide.

The home side came within a hair’s breadth of doubling their lead two minutes later as Richie Towell squared for Finn, but a magnificent Lee Desmond challenge denied him a tap-in.

A soft free kick awarded against Joey O’Brien in injury time presented Mountney with a shooting opportunity 30 yards out.

The former Dundalk man’s well-struck effort deflected off Watts in the wall and wrong-footed Alan Mannus in the Rovers goal to draw the visitors level.

Rovers regained the lead on the hour as Watts swung in an inviting corner from the left and centre-half Lopes sent his header spiralling into the corner.

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Darragh Burns very nearly levelled once more as he cut in from the right and curled the ball inches past the post, and Rovers would heed the warning.

Mandroiu wrapped up the points with 18 minutes remaining as he latched onto Watts’ through ball and delicately chipped the ball over the advancing Vitezslav Jaros and in off the bar.

Shamrock Rovers: Alan Mannus; Joey O’Brien, Roberto Lopes, Lee Grace (Sean Kavanagh 75): Ronan Finn (Sean Gannon 78), Dylan Watts (Sean Hoare 83), Gary O’Neill, Liam Scales; Richie Towell, Danny Mandroiu (Aaron Greene 83), Rory Gaffney.

St Patrick’s Athletic: Vitezslav Jaros; Sam Bone (kyrian Nwoko 87), Paddy Barrett (Rónán Coughlan 58), Lee Desmond; John Mountney, Chris Forrester, Alfie Lewis (Nahum Melvin-Lambert 75), Jay McClelland; Darragh Burns, Billy King, Robbie Benson.

Referee: Derek Romney.

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