Bray Wanderers (SJB) 0-1 Shamrock Rovers 1 (Murphy)
This was a game that remained alive right up to the final whistle but the score line probably doesn’t do the Hoops justice.
They began against Bray Wanderers (named as St. Joseph’s Boy’s Academy on the team sheet) in blistering style. Jack Kelly, Conor Grant and Martins Olakanye each created super chances for Rhys Murphy (once offside though) to give the home side some serious jitters in the first three minutes. The home side settled down a bit more after that though.
Bray had an early chance themselves when Daniel Madaghjian was brought to a halt by Andy Spain who conceded a free in the process. The same player went close again minutes later and this was followed up by Jake Ellis but precision timing by Adam O’Connor saw Ellis’s shot blocked and cleared.
The ‘Seagulls’ pressed high up the pitch with the result that the rampant Murphy, who was sent on his way time and again by Martins and the midfielders, was caught offside several times.
One of the best moves of the game saw Hoops’ midfielder Conor Grant display some fine individual control of the ball under close pressure before unleashing a shot that came off the crossbar.
Right full Conor Fitzharris linked up well with Jack Kelly in the 33rd minute with Kelly setting Dean Williams for a shot that was saved by ‘keeper Alex Nevin.
The Bray goal wasn’t so lucky a minute later though when Kelly again was the provider and this time Murphy, in the centre of the box, side-stepped his marker and delivered a sweet shot past Nevin’s left and into the net to put the Hoops 1-0 ahead.
Rovers were enjoying a really good spell at this stage and when Martins worked his way into the box after some fine individual work on the left Conor Behan took control to supply Murphy who was then denied twice in quick succession by Nevin.
Straight after the second half began Hoops’ goalkeeper Kalvin Gergathy was forced into a good save from Shane Flynn. Gergathy was to be a much busier player in the second 45 minutes than he had been in the first.
In fact, both ‘keepers had to be at their best and in the 56th minute it was Nevin’s turn to make a save from Kelly after the right winger had been sent on his way by Evan Smithers. The central midfielder himself then had a crack a minute later but his effort went over the bar. Kelly brought off a great save from Nevin before Williams was fouled but the striker sent his free kick well over the bar.
The home side were very industrious in the second half and created some chances themselves in and around the box but as was the case against UCD two weeks ago the Hoops had an abundance of chances but were just not clinical enough to kill the game off.
They host Cork City next weekend and hopefully will enjoy as many chances and have a higher return rate. They won’t mind so much though; today’s game was a tough one played between two sides whose players are familiar with each other. All things considered it was a fine win for the Hoops who again didn’t concede and remain at the top of the table.
Shamrock Rovers: 1. Kalvin Gergathy, 2. Conor Fitzharris, 4. Andy Spain, 5. Adam O’Connor, 14. Martins Olakanye, 7. Jack Kelly, 8. Evan Smithers, 10. Conor Grant, 15. Conor Behan, 17. Rhys Murphy, 9. Dean Williams.
Subs: 16. Thomas Hannon for Smithers (58m), 19. James Clarke for Murphy (70m), 18. Dan Howlin for Kelly (78m). Unused: 23. Lee McEntee, 25. Gavin Bazuna
Match report and photos by Robert Goggins
Match photos click here