Derry dig deep to stall Hoops charge
Derry City 0 Shamrock Rvs 0
From full throttle, this Shamrock Rovers' juggernaut hit a speed bump in Derry last night as they dropped their first points of the season.
When the fixture list for the 2011 season emerged, or re-emerged as the case may be, this trip to Foyleside was always going to represent a litmus test for the Rovers' class of 2011.
If the champions had trepidations it showed. Lacking any kind of creative endeavour going forward, they had to rely on their back line and Alan Mannus to keep their opponents at bay, with both Garys, Twigg and O'Neill, being hauled off with 15 minutes left.
Nevertheless, with 10 points from four games, the momentum is still with the Tallaght outfit, even if Derry put them to the pin of their collar -- in the second half at least -- last night.
The Candystripes' collapse late on in Drogheda last week put Stephen Kenny's men in no doubt as to the challenges that Premier Division football will pose this term, and the Derry boss will be pleased with the way his side dug in from the off here against the top dogs.
The opening exchanges saw both sides prodding for an opening.
Ronan Finn found the first gap in the fifth minute when he rattled a shot just wide of Ger Doherty's post after Twigg had switched play from the left wing with a neat pass.
Enda Stevens put Stewart Greacen under pressure with his forward punt and from the ensuing throw-in Gary O'Neill could only manage to push his shot over Doherty's bar after Stevens again was involved in the final third.
That was about as good as it got in the first half hour and it wasn't until then that the home side troubled the Rovers rearguard, albeit with a harmless effort from Daniel Lafferty.
Neither side were giving up much ground and, in a bid to shake things up, Kenny switched Stephen McLaughlin and Gareth McGlynn from their respective wings.
Immediately Derry looked more of a threat and five minutes before the break they could well have been in front. Kevin Deery's corner was met by Greacen, who was magnificent at the back for the Foylesiders. The ex-Morton centre-half found Eamon Zayed lurking on the penalty spot, but the Libyan international's header fizzed just over Mannus' crossbar.
The Northern Ireland 'keeper was certainly the busier of the two number ones throughout and his goalmouth was immediately put under the cosh after the restart. Ken Oman first stopped a goal-bound McGlynn effort with a last-ditch diving header and then Mannus himself was put at full stretch, on the back foot, to tip over a ferocious dipping effort by Lafferty.
Even with the exit of Twigg and O'Neill the Tallaght outfit never looked a threat and the best they could muster was a tame Billy Dennehy free that Doherty had no trouble in smothering.
At the end of it the Rovers fans heading back out Victoria Road will view this as a point gained as much as anything and they'll be glad to have gotten out of there with at least something to show for the long trek to Derry.
Derry City -- Doherty; McCallion, Greacen, S McEleney, Lafferty; McGlynn, Deery, Molloy, McLaughlin (McDaid, 84); Harkin (McClean, 56); Zayed.
Shamrock Rovers -- Mannus; Sullivan, Murray, Oman, Stevens; McCabe (Kavanagh, 54), Finn, Turner, Dennehy; Twigg (O'Donnell, 75), O'Neill (Kilduff, 63).
Ref -- R Winter (Wicklow).