Trevor Clarke celebrates the opening goal for Shamrock Rovers. Laszlo Geczo/INPHO
derby delight

Bohemians cry foul over penalty decision as Rovers close gap at top

Champions now just one point behind leaders after goals from Trevor Clarke and Rory Gaffney.

Shamrock Rovers 2
Bohemians 0

ANOTHER TWO-GOAL win for Shamrock Rovers over Bohemians.

But this was nowhere near as straight forward as the victory at Dalymount Park just last month.

Trevor Clarke and Rory Gaffney pounced from close range to close the gap to their bitter rivals at the top to a single point.

The champions have been motoring into form after their initial wobbles and a triumph like this will only add to their momentum.

Bohs have been good at bouncing back and they will have to do so again if they are to maintain their early promise.

When Clarke tapped home from close range on 57 minutes it felt like it might have been the catalyst for another commanding display similar to what happened last time out.

Instead, Bohs rallied and were left fuming when referee Rob Hennessy waved away Jonathan Afolabi’s strong appeals for a penalty when Daniel Cleary slid in to try and make amends for Gary O’Neill’s loose back pass.

The Rovers centre back didn’t make contact with the ball and Afolabi went down as he tried to avoid the challenge.

His manager, Declan Devine, was apoplectic on the touchline and when Gaffney prodded home a header to extend the lead on 82 minutes that anger would have only increased.

Bohs ended up second best and while they remain top of the table a previously healthy advantage has been trimmed to the minimum.

There were 7,864 here at Tallaght Stadium – a League of Ireland record for this ground – and from the first whistle tension and entertainment were companions for the night.

Bohs only added to their early problems as they struggled to get to grips with the tempo Rovers were intent on maintaining.

In particular, Kacper Radkowski was guilty of two lapses in judgement which, on another night, may have been punished more harshly.
When the centre back was caught dallying over the ball in the third minute near the right corner flag by Johnny Kenny, Richie Towell was the beneficiary.

It was a tight angle as he carried the ball into the box along the byline but he got his effort on target and it required James Talbot to block with his chest.

roberto-lopes-and-neil-farrugia-with-jonathan-afolabi Rovers’ Roberto Lopes (left) and Neil Farrugia with Jonathan Afolabi of Bohemians. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

The Bohs goalkeeper didn’t have to get his body in the way three minutes later when Radkowski this time misjudged the pace of a Daniel Cleary ball into space down that same channel.

The Polish defender also didn’t realise Kenny was again breathing down his neck. The on-loan Celtic forward, with two goals in his last three games, nipped in to pinch the ball but his shot was too flat from the wide angle, and had he wrapped his left foot around it he may have had sufficient bend to cause more concern.

Bohs were certainly feeling the heat as Rovers probed with intent. A Jack Byrne through ball split their defence for Towell to run on to and when he was brought down in the box by the onrushing Talbot it looked nailed on to be a penalty.

The offside flag was a welcome sight for Devine, the Bohs boss then watching Grant Horton receive a yellow cards just yards in front of him moments later after Trevor Clarke burst goal wards.

Towell, among others, were asking the question of referee Rob Hennessy whether it might have been red given the location.

A caution seemed fair as Bohs heads were spinning inside this opening 10-minute period.

Slowly they became more assured, the league leaders getting a foothold with possession and working the ball into decent areas without really threatening.

It was the home side who came closest again on the half hour, Clarke dragging a shot wide after another sharp drive into the box.

But the goal wasn’t forthcoming as Devine’s men continued to gain more confidence. This was evidenced three minutes before the break when they came the width of Leon Pohls thigh away from taking a lead into the break.

Paddy Kirk started and almost finished a delightful move. The Bohs left full pinged a lovely switch of play to Dylan Connolly on the right.

He was afford the time to control it and assess his options, tapping it into space for Horton to gallop onto down the right.

Spaces had become easier to find in this area and when Horton pulled a ball back across it found its way all the way to Kirk who was advancing into the box.

He needed a touch to set himself for the strike and while it was powerful, Pohls got a strong leg behind it to send the ball over the bar to cheers from the vocal support behind that goal.

shamrock-rovers-fans-celebrate-trevor-clarkes-goal Rovers fans celebrate. Laszlo Geczo / INPHO Laszlo Geczo / INPHO / INPHO

Twelve minutes into the second half and the entirety of Tallaght Stadium – bar the 750 from Phibsborough – was jubilant.

Clarke – his third goal in four games – was the one wheeling away in celebration after being the welcome recipient of a close-range tap in.

Neil Farrugia’s precise in-swinging cross from the right was glanced down by Kenny, Talbot then palming away into the path of the Rovers left wing back.

Suggestions of offside were inconclusive from the various replays but Bohs certainly had far more reason to be aggrieved by Hennessy waving away Afolabi’s appeals soon after.

The Bohs striker also had a one-on-one opportunity denied by Pohls after a lovely through apss by Jordan Flores, while a Connolly cross to the back post was almost converted by the sliding substitute Declan McDaid.

These missed chances were punished by Gaffney, sprung from the bench for Kenny, when he stayed alter to a deflected shot off Keith Buckley after Farrugia produced a lovely dummy to ghost part Horton into the box.

It was a clinical way to end a night of joy and despair depending on your allegiances.

Shamrock Rovers: Pohls; Cleary, Lopes (c), Grace; Farrugia, O’Neill, Towell, Byrne, Poom; Kenny.

Bohemians: Talbot; Horton, Nowak, Radkowski, Kirk; Connolly, Buckley (c), Flores, McDonnell, Coote; Afolabi.

Referee: Rob Hennessy (Limerick).

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