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Scales snatches all three points for Rovers with 95th-minute header

Stephen Bradley’s Hoops preserved their lead at the top of the Premier Division in dramatic fashion.

Liam Scales leads the Rovers celebrations deep into injury time.
Liam Scales leads the Rovers celebrations deep into injury time.
Image: Brian Reilly-Troy/INPHO

Shamrock Rovers 1-0 Longford Town

Dave Donnelly reports at Tallaght Stadium

SHAMROCK ROVERS LEFT it late once again to break Longford Town hearts as Liam Scales headed home in the fifth minute of injury time.

The visitors looked to have earned a deserved point at the home of the champions after holding out for over 90 minutes.

Rovers looked set to see their lead at the top of the division reduced to a point following St Patrick’s Athletic’s 4-1 demolition of Dundalk at Oriel Park.

But just as they had against FK Teuta on Thursday night in the Europa Conference League, and twice already this season against the midlanders, the Hoops found a dramatic winner.

Sean Gannon had netted a winner in the sixth added minute when the sides met in Tallaght earlier this season, and Rory Gaffney in the seventh up at Bishopsgate.

Graham Burke had just seen a header bounce back off the foot of the post as Rovers searched for what looked an unlikely winner, when Scales struck.

A quick throw was pumped back into the box by Sean Hoare and this time Scales wouldn’t be denied as he powered a header into the top corner past the outstanding Lee Steacy.

It was particularly rough justice on a Longford side who, while not looking likely to win themselves, would have merited a point in a game in which they were largely comfortable.

They had suffered the odd scare in either half, particularly when Thursday’s hero Aidomo Emakhu, making his first senior start, found room to shoot.

The 17-year-old shot just wide early on after Burke had curled over, and Burke saw another shot from a close angle saved by the alert Steacy.

Rovers dominated the second half and forced Longford into their own half but, though they had half-chances, there was little clear-cut to worry the Longford rearguard.

Aaron O’Driscoll, the on-loan Mansfield Town centre-half, looks particularly suited to this level and he pulled off a series of vital interventions.

It was his desperate block that kept out Burke’s close-range volley in injury time, moments before the striker nodded Rory Gaffney’s cross onto the post.

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Steacy, too, had been flawless all afternoon but he was nothing to do as Scales, missed by the TV cameras as they focused on Burke’s miss, steered the ball wonderfully home.

If this is one of Scales’ final contributions in a Hoops shirt, as he is courted by Celtic and Premier League Burnley, it could be vital as they maintain their three-point lead.

Shamrock Rovers: Alan Mannus; Sean Hoare, Roberto Lopes, Liam Scales; Max Murphy (Ronan Finn 66), Chris McCann (Dylan Watts 61), Richie Towell (Danny Mandroiu 61), Sean Kavanagh (Lee Grace 89); Graham Burke, Aidomo Emakhu (Rory Gaffney 61), Aaron Greene.

Longford Town: Lee Steacy; Aaron McNally (Joe Manley 85), Mick McDonnell, Aaron O’Driscoll, Paddy Kirk; Aodh Dervin, Dean Zambra, Matthew O’Brien (Aaron Robinson 62); Rob Manley, Dylan Grimes (Karl Chambers 62), Aaron Dobbs (Callum Warfield 73).

Referee: Rob Hennessy (Clare).

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Dave Donnelly

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