by Robert O'Reilly
Goals at the start of either half from Ciaran Kilduff and Sean O’Connor sealed a routine 2-0 win for Shamrock Rovers over Drogheda United at a wet and windy United Park.
Pat Fenlon made four changes from the side that drew 0-0 with Dundalk on Monday and they started with intent as within the opening minute as O’Connor’s speculative drive from distance was parried by Drogheda goalkeeper Micheál Schlingermann and Ryan Brennan failed hit the target with a diving header on the rebound.
In a similar fashion to their home defeat to St Pat’s last week, Drogheda were caught cold early on as three minutes later sweeping football down the right between Gary McCabe and Simon Madden saw the latter drive a low cross into the box that was converted from close range by Kilduff.
The home side were denied a strong penalty on the half hour mark as Gary O’Neill dispossessed Jason McGuinness in the box and the defender tried to make amends but brought down the Drogheda player though referee Graham Kelly opted to wave play on.
United had grown into the game at this stage and with 35 minutes played as a free kick into the box fell the way of Peter McGlynn but the midfielder’s well struck effort flew narrowly wide of the bottom corner.
The Hoops began the second half in the same decisive manner that they started the game and they doubled their lead three minutes after the interval as Madden was again given acres of space on the right hand side and his cross picked out O’Connor at the back post and he headed past Schlingermann for 2-0.
Rovers continued to control the game and they almost made it three as Ronan Finn released McCabe through on goal but the winger’s effort lacked the power to beat the Drogheda goalkeeper.
The home side came close to pulling a goal back in injury time as Ciaran McGuigan’s thunderous drive from the edge of the box cannoned back off the post as United ended their domestic season at home with a defeat.
by Robert O'Reilly
Drogheda United will welcome Shamrock Rovers to United Park for the final home game of the season with a top half finish still in sight.
Despite suffering their 15th league defeat in 31 games to St Patrick’s Athletic last Friday, the Boynesiders remain only two points off Derry City in sixth with a couple of league games remaining.
Conan Byrne gave the Saints the lead early on but goals in either half from Gavan Holohan and Peter McGlynn put the hosts in front before a Daire Doyle own goal and a last gasp strike from Christy Fagan sealed a remarkable turnaround which painted an unfair reflection on the game according to the Drogheda manager.
“I felt that we fully deserved all three points against St Pat’s last week had it not been for a catastrophic couple of minutes at the end”, Richardson admitted on Thursday. “We played really well for long parts of the game having struggled to adapt at the beginning. It was arguably the best performance since I have taken over which is very pleasing and I believe that the lesson in how to see out a game has been learned.”
Late goals have plagued Drogheda in recent weeks having conceded in the latter stages to both Derry City and St Pat’s but Richardson believes that his team has matured as the season has progressed and has been encouraged by their performances.
“That is an important part of the progression of the team. We need to learn and to evolve with each passing game. I’m delighted with how we have played in the past few weeks against some of the best sides in the country and that gives me great confidence for the future of this side.”
Though Shamrock Rovers hold victories over United in both the league and EA Sports Cup, the Drogs will come into the game full of confidence having defeated Rovers 1-0 in Tallaght back in August courtesy of Gavan Holohan’s strike, their first win over the Hoops in seven years.
That was the final game in temporary charge for Darius Kierans before Richardson’s appointment and since then Rovers have changed manager with Pat Fenlon in charge and as a result, Richardson is expecting a face a rejuvenated Rovers side.
“Pat Fenlon’s sides are always tough to beat and they have a more cautious approach than previous Rovers sides. I’m sure that they will be motivated following the Dundalk game on Monday but we have our own inspiration with it being our last home game of the season. It’s going to be a good test but above all else, we want to send the fans home happy.”
Drogheda will have to do without Cathal Brady for Rovers’ visit as the winger is still struggling with a hamstring injury while Michael Daly is doubtful with a back complaint. Gavin Brennan will be unavailable as he serves the second match of a five game ban while Daire Doyle is suspended having accumulated four yellow cards.
Adam Wixted (Paul Crowley 56)
Ryan Brennan (Shane Robinson 73)
Sean O’Connor (Kieran Marty Waters 68)