Shamrock Rovers bow out of Europe against the Odds
Odds BK 2 Shamrock Rovers 1 (Odds BK win 4-1 on aggregate)
Late strikes from Ole Jorgen Halvorsen and Steffen Hagen were more than sufficient for Odds BK to end Shamrock Rovers’ Europa League hopes at the Skagerak Arena.
Rovers craved the first goal of the game, but in truth it never looked like coming their way as a measured Odds performances saw the Norwegians comfortably through to meet Elfsborg of Sweden in the third qualifying round.
The only consolation for Rovers on the night came from Gavin Brennan’s last minute goal.
Rovers’ manager Pat Fenlon made one change from the first leg with midfielder Brandon Miele returning to the side as Marty Waters dropped to the bench.
In a surprise move by Odds boss Dag-Eilev Fagermo, Canadian international striker Olivier Occéan, who scored both goals in last week’s 2-0 first leg win in Tallaght, and key midfielder Jone Samuelsen, were rested to the bench with Sunday‘s Tippeligaen game at home to Tromso in mind.
Save for an even opening period when Ryan Brennan headed wide from a Gary McCabe free kick, Odds dominated the first half, Rovers’ first scare arriving on 14 minutes.
Halvorsen broke on the right to feed the run of Oliver Berg whose low pullback was well cut out by Luke Byrne.
Simon Madden was then there on the opposite flank with a timely interception to take the ball off the toe of Rafik Zekhnini after Chukwuma Akabueze and Fredrik Nordkvelle worked Odds’ first real opening on 22 minutes.
The chances were coming now for Odds with Akabueze blasting a 20-yard drive which Craig Hyland was grateful was straight at him.
Patrick Cregg then bravely blocked a stinging shot from Nordkvelle on the edge of the area.
With Occéan on from the start of the second half, Odds should have been two goals up inside five minutes.
A shout for a handball by Rovers at one end was ignored. Odds quickly broke with Halvorsen’s cross somehow scooped over the bar by Zekhnini.
Emil Jonassen and Occéan then combined to set up Berg who also contrived to blaze over the top from close range.
A loose pass back at the other end gifted Cregg a sight of goal, but his scuffed shot was comfortable for Sondre Rossbach.
The Odds keeper really had to work on 55 minutes, though, from Rovers first clear-cut chance.
Gavin Brennan and Cregg worked the ball to Mikey Drennan on the left side of the area and his well-struck shot was pushed round a post by Rossbach.
Miele might have done better minutes later when, with time and space on the right, he shot over.
That was as good as it got as Odds made the breakthrough on the night on 71 minutes.
Byrne’s weak header was picked up by Samuelsen who skipped to the end line to cross low for Halvorsen to drill home.
Home captain Hagen added the second on 85 minutes with a powerful back post header form Espen Ruud’s corner.
Rovers got some joy on the night right on 90 minutes. Madden’s deep cross from the right was knocked back by Danny North and Gavin Brennan swept the ball home from eight yards.
Odds BK: Rossbach; Ruud, Eriksen (Bergan, 78), Hagen, Jonassen; Berg, Gashi, Nordkvelle (Samuelsen, 62); Halvorsen, Akabueze (Occéan, h/t), Zekhnini.
Shamrock Rovers: Hyland; Madden, Kenna, Webster, Byrne; McCabe, Cregg (C. Kavanagh, 67); Miele (North, 80), R. Brennan, G. Brennan; Drennan.
Referee: Marius Avram (Romania).