Shamrock Rovers 0-1 Bohemians
A big crowd turned out at Tallaght Stadium this afternoon to see Rovers and Bohs do battle for a place in the semi finals of the SSE Airtricity Under 17 League.
The Hoops began brightly with their first threatening move coming as early as the second minute when Eric Abulu took the ball down the left before switching to midfielder Evan Smithers who picked out Dean Williams who in turn tested Bohs’ keeper Jamie Cleary. It was a promising move and was to be followed by many more throughout the game but uncharacteristically they failed to find the net by the time the final whistle came.
Wingers Kenny Cunningham and Jack Kelly broke through on numerous occasions but full credit has to go to a hard-working Bohs defence who worked their socks off throughout. Bohs first real chance to score came in the 19th minute after Jay Nwanze fouled Lido Lotefa out on the left.
There was a flurry in the box following Denis Smith’s free but the danger faded out after Jack Moylan’s soft strike at Gavin Bazunu. While there was no shortage of action throughout the first half real chances were scarce with neither keeper having to overly exert themselves.
Rovers played better against the breeze after the break and looked dangerous at times. Bohs strongest point was their defence and their over reliance of long punting balls saw them limit themselves to any serious penetration for most of the half. They did have a really good opportunity though when Lotefa went close to meeting the ball from a free kick.
Ten minutes later the Hoops came close to breaking the deadlock when Adam O’Connor powerfully headed an Eric Abulu free kick just wide of the far post. Cleary saved from Williams before a galloping run from Sobe Nwaokolo was met by Darren Prendergast who displayed a neat calmness to fluff out the danger.
Bohs then had to withstand some serious pressure from the Hoops who were playing into the car park end. Williams was fouled and following the free O’Connor had a shot saved by Cleary.
The pressure continued into the first period of extra time with Thomas Hannon’s free kick following a foul on Williams being blocked at the expense of a corner. Jack Kelly was denied an excellent chance after he broke though on the right only to be pulled back by a Bohs defender who seemed overly keen to get his hands on Kelly’s jersey.
There was a close shave for the Hoops when the ball came off the back of centre half Nwanze for a corner in the 97th minute. Bohs withstood some persistent pressure from their rivals but managed to put together some moves themselves as the first period of extra time was almost up.
A great tackle from Hannon on Denis Robu proved to be decisive and ensured the game remained scoreless as the referee signalled the end of the first period of extra time. Williams and Emmanuel Odeniyi combined in the 107th minute to enable Hannon run in to shoot but centre half Lewis Kilkenny got a touch on it for a corner.
The goal that broke the deadlock came in the 112th minute when Mitch Byrne came in to meet the ball with a clean header which he directed into the roof of the net.
The best chance Rovers had after that to level matters fell to Williams who, despite a crowded box, managed to swerve a shot to Cleary’s left which went inches wide.
On another day the Hoops would have run rampant in front of goal but it wasn’t to be today. They have come a long way since the start of the year with almost the entire squad having come in this season. It’s been a great season for them and most importantly a good handful of these lads will move up to the Under 19s next year having shown they have the potential to go much further.
Shamrock Rovers: 25. Gavin Bazunu; 14. Martins Olakanye, 5. Adam O’Connor, 23. Jay Nwanze, 3. Eric Abulu; 7. Jack Kelly, 8. Evan Smithers, 15. Conor Behan, 2. Darren Prendergast, 11. Kenny Cunningham; 9. Dean Williams.
Substitutes: 10. Jordan Tallon (for Kelly 98 mins), 16. Thomas Hannon (for Smithers 78 mins), 17. Rhys Murphy, 19. James Clarke (for Cunningham 112 mins), 20. Emmanuel Odeniyi (for Behan 61 mins)