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Unbeaten Rovers snatch injury time winner against newly promoted Longford

Irish international Graham Burke and Sean Gannon fired Rovers to a dramatic 2-1 win.

Graham Burke scores for Rovers.
Graham Burke scores for Rovers.
Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Shamrock Rovers 2

Longford Town 1

Darryl Geraghty reports from Tallaght Stadium 

CHAMPIONS SHAMROCK ROVERS left it very late to break down a resolute and impressive Longford Town side who have proven already they are not in the Premier Division to just make up the numbers, and were within seconds of earning a point.

Stephen Bradley’s men just proved too strong in the Dublin sunshine, but were made to really work for it.

Second-half goals from Graham Burke, from the spot and a 93rd minute Sean Gannon deflected winner proved enough in the end as they extended their unbeaten league run.

In response to his side being brought down to earth with a bang with last week’s defeat to Drogheda, and despite a good start to the season, Daire Doyle opted for four changes to the side.

The quality of the side didn’t look to drop off whatsoever and incredibly with just six minutes played Roberto Lopes was caught in possession by the razor sharp Aaron Dobbs.

The Longford front man showed great pace to get himself into the area and was eventually brought down by the recovering Lopes, and referee Rob Hennessey was in no doubt as he pointed to the spot.

Up stepped Dylan Grimes, who coolly sent Alan Mannus the wrong way to give the visitors the lead.

dylan-grimes-celebrates-scoring-a-goal-with-teammates Dylan Grimes is congratulated. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

The hosts, who had started very slow compared to their usual standards, tried to step it up a gear but were met with an energetic high press they struggled to break through.

The Hoops most dangerous avenue seemed down their right-hand-side through the rampaging Sean Gannon.

The ex-Dundalk man continued to get the end line time after time, with his cut backs constantly being cut out.

The Hoops looked a real threat from the resulting corners with Scales and Lopes attacking well and winning the majority but not troubling Michael Kelly, who was deputising for Lee Steacy.

Despite having less possession, Longord’s relentless work rate persisted, and looked a threat on the break. Joe Gorman brilliantly found Shane Elworthy, who was giving Liam Scales a tough time, and the pacey wingers cross eventually found the feet of Aaron Robinson in the area but his strike was bravely blocked.

The hosts signalled their intent right from the off at the start of the second-half with attacking substitutions in the shape of Gary O’Neill and Rory Gaffney for skipper Ronan Finn and Lee Grace, showing just what strength they possessed from the sidelines.

aaron-greene Aaron Greene chases possession. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Chris McCann stung Kelly’s hands with a 30 yard drive, and from the resulting set piece pulled off an incredible save from a Graham Burke point blank header as the Tallaght side took it up a couple of gears.

 

The relentless pressure finally told after nine minutes, after a spate of set-pieces, amazingly it was roles reversed as Aaron Dobbs clumsily brought down Lopes inside his own area.

Burke confidently slotted the resulting penalty straight down the middle to get his side back on level terms and it was game on.

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Although Karl Chambers’ scooped effort nearly caught Mannus off guard, landing on the roof of the net, it was a case of trying to take the sting out of the game at every opportunity as the final quarter of an hour approached.

Rovers struggled to threaten right up until injury time, and Mick Kelly was forced to make an excellent reaction save with his feet to deny Aaron Greene’s powerful low drive.

Rovers then broke Longford hearts when, after a bit of pinball in the area from Dylan Watts’ free kick, the ball fell invitingly to Sean Gannons whose deflected volley from 25-yards was eventually deflected past the helpless Kelly, to snatch all three points right at the death.  

Shamrock Rovers: Alan Mannus, Sean Gannon, Roberto Lopes, Lee Grace (Gary O’Neill, 45’), Ronan Finn (Rory Gaffney, 45’), Aaron Greene, Graham Burke, Sean Kavanagh, Danny Mandroiu (Dylan Watts, 59’), Liam Scales, Chris McCann

Subs: Leon Pohls, Dylan Watts, Gary O’Neill, Dean Williams, Rory Gaffney, Darragh Nugent, Max Murphy, Dean McMenamy, Aidomo Emakhu

Longford Town: Michael Kelly, Shane Elworthy, Paddy Kirk, Aaron Robinson, Dylan Grimes, Aaron Dobbs (Rob Manley, 80’), Aaron O’Driscoll, Aaron Bolger (Sam Verdon, 72’), Aodh Dervin (c) , Karl Chambers, Joe Gorman

Subs: Lee Steacy, Michael McDonnell, Rob Manley, Sam Verdon, Callum Thompson, Matthew O’Brien, Joe Manley, Benjamin Lynch, Conor Davis

Referee: Rob Hennessy

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