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Evan Treacy/INPHO Stephen Bradley pictured at last night's game.
# Unhappy
'My 8-year-old son could have told us that was offside' - Bradley
The Shamrock Rovers manager lamented a game-changing officiating decision during their loss to Molde.

SHAMROCK ROVERS manager Stephen Bradley lamented an incorrect decision by the officials as his side were beaten 2-0 by Molde on Thursday night.

The result brought an end to the Hoops’ hopes of progression to the Europa Conference League knockout stages on a disappointing night at Tallaght.

And so the Hoops were left to ponder what might have been.

They had 65% possession and created some decent opportunities in the first half before David Fofana’s goal against the run of play changed the course of the match.

However, Bradley was not happy, particularly as replays showed the Ivory Coast international was clearly offside when he headed home amid a pivotal point in the contest.

“I thought we were very good tonight,” the Rovers boss told reporters afterwards. “I felt the non-decision for the first goal is really poor from the linesman. He’s three yards offside, it’s not even tight and he’s offside for three or four seconds so it’s not a movement. How the referee or linesman hasn’t seen it at this level is really poor because we start well, we had the momentum and that knocked us back a bit, a terrible decision.

“We knew we had to win tonight if we wanted a chance to progress in the group. So when you have decisions like that go against you, it’s not good enough at this level.”

There was no VAR on the night and asked whether he hoped to see it introduced into the competition, Bradley replied: “Obviously, we have to have the facilities to make it run right. But when you see decisions like that, my eight-year-old son could have told us that was offside, you don’t need VAR for that, it was incredible. There was no one in his way.

“And very similar, Aaron Greene scores in the second half and the flag is up within a second. I thought [the officials] were terrible all night, to be honest, but that was a terrible decision.”

While there was little they could do about the first goal, Bradley admitted his side were culpable as substitute Kristian Eriksen doubled Molde’s advantage in the 69th minute.

“As bad as the first goal was from the officials, the second goal was as bad from us. A front post header at chest height is really poor.

“And we’re usually really strong on set plays, we know they go heavy on set plays. They go seven in the box and they have a really good delivery — we’ve seen that over there. But the second goal was really poor from our point of view, it took the whole energy out of the stadium and out of the game. At 1-0, with Graham [Burke] and Neil [Farrugia] coming on, I think we have a real chance to go and make something happen. 

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“They always aim front post. All their corners are front post. And that’s what’s so disappointing, we knew that before we played them over there and we spoke about it yesterday, all their corners go front post and they go really heavy with their runners front post. That’s exactly what we were trying to say. But we stepped a yard outside when it’s an inswinging delivery which is basic — inswinging deliveries step a yard inside rather than outside. So the small margins at this level, you don’t get away with it and that’s the message we’re trying to get on.”

The result also represented a first competitive defeat in 32 games at home for Rovers — a run that lasted more than a year.

Bradley added that he was “very proud” of the record, which is one that “I’m sure will be there until this team break it again over the next few years”.

In addition, while their hopes of progressing from the group stages are over, there is still prize money at stake and so Bradley insisted his team would play “to win” their two remaining fixtures.

On their European adventure in general, he added: “We know the level we can play at, we know the two games away in Europe [were disappointing] — I’ve got to look at that as well. I’ve made a lot of changes but I’ve got to focus on the bigger picture for the team and the club and we’ve obviously had the league as our priority. We want to get to a stage where we can fight on all fronts, home and away no matter where the game is. But we’ve shown over the years against European opposition that when we play to our level, we’re more than a match for most teams and we showed that again tonight.”

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