LOI Premier Division – Shamrock Rovers 2 – Bohemians 1
By Dave Donnelly
SHAMROCK Rovers remain top of the Premier Division following a narrow 2-1 Dublin Derby win over Bohemians – but the outcome in Tallaght was laced with no little controversy.
A penalty awarded to the Hoops 20 minutes from time – with Bohs defender James Finnerty shown a red card – was enough to separate the sides in an entertaining and highly-competitive clash.
Referee Paul McLaughlin had no hesitation in dismissing Finnerty as he was deemed to have tripped Danny Mandroiu on route to goal – but replays showed there was minimal contact.
The defender did reach out an arm to halt Mandroiu – who moved from the Gypsies in the off-season – and McLaughlin judged it enough to warrant a straight red.
Graham Burke dispatched the subsequent penalty, leaving the visitors to chase the game with ten men, and Rovers held out to keep pace with St Patrick’s Athletic.
Another former Bohs man, Dylan Watts, had given the Hoops a dream start as he netted inside five minutes, only for teenager Ross Tierney to level up midway through the first half.
Bohs boss Long was left frustrated by what he saw as the wrong decision, and perceived double standards for similar fouls on Liam Burt and Georgie Kelly earlier in the game.
“I don’t think it’s a penalty and a red card – it’s a bad decision and we’ve lost the game,” Long told the Dublin Gazette.
“We have Liam Burt going in on goal, yellow card. Georgie Kelly has a shot against the foot of the post and the referee plays advantage.
“He tells Georgie that it would have been a penalty had he not played advantage. Surely there is no advantage if we don’t take advantage?
“The game is in a very perilous situation, I have to say, with certain rules and the interpretation of the rules by different officials.
“Apart from some critical moments, I thought the referee had a decent game, but listen, we’ve got done and we’ve lost another game. We definitely deserved something.”
There were chances aplenty during a thrilling first half that saw Rovers take an early lead as Watts stabbed home after Aaron Greene’s initial effort had come back off the post.
Burt should have equalised shortly afterwards as he was teed up by Keith Ward but, with the whole goal to aim at, he curled his shot around the post.
Bohs found their equaliser shortly afterwards as Ali Coote picked out the unmarked Tierney at the back post, and the smallest man on the pitch had a free header to level up.
Rovers peppered the Bohs goal with shots and really should have gone 2-1 up when Chris McCann played Greene clear on goal but, with just James Talbot to beat, his dragged his shot wide.
The second half was always likely to be slower as both teams tired but, against the run of play, Rovers fashioned the opportunity that would lead to a penalty and Finnerty’s marching orders.
“Forget about what’s coming down the road, that will look after itself. We need to focus on Finn Harps and respect that game,” said Hoops boss Stephen Bradley.
“Forget Waterford [on Monday]. Finn Harps, get points on the board and see what happens after that. We genuinely don’t look anywhere else other than the next game.
“If you do in this league you are in trouble because it’s so competitive.”
PHOTOS – George Kelly