Flynn catches Rovers napping
Shamrock Rvs 1 St Patrick's Ath 1
It was one of those moments when time stood still. Certainly the Shamrock Rovers defence did, as Greg Bolger's cross sailed into the box and no one responded.
No one that is, except Pat Flynn, the former Hoop, who collected possession before striking a low shot past Oscar Jansson and into the net.
And there, in the blink of an eye, the script changed. From talking about Rovers' title challenge receiving a shot in the arm, suddenly we were talking about Stephen Kenny's managerial record again. Well, a small section of the crowd were, singing "we want Kenny out".
Afterwards, Kenny refused to comment on their chorus yet he could have argued that they were being harsh on someone with a proven track record who had completely reshaped his side on the back of "an embarrassing performance" against Bohemians nine days ago.
Yesterday the defending champions weren't embarrassing. They were resilient and clever and within 90 seconds of victory.
"Let's be honest here, they were the better team," admitted Pat's boss Liam Buckley. "That's the first time this season where I've come away thinking, 'we were lucky to get a point there because they had us'. Rovers passed the ball better than us and set their stall out to stop us playing. They succeeded there too."
So why didn't they win, then? Why did the team who overcame a sluggish start -- when Pat's played with rhythm and poise -- not seal the deal? "Teams do that," opined Buckley. "They lead 1-0 and they drop back into deep areas. It isn't panic. It's just a habit."
And from Rovers' perspective, conceding late goals has become an unhealthy habit this season. This was the fourth time in five home games that they have coughed up a lead in the dying moments to turn victories into draws.
"I can't believe we did it again," said Kenny. "We had been the better team, had the chance to get a second and then, after dominating, we gave away a goal like that. It shouldn't happen. We need to see out games."
Yet it looked as if they had enough about them to go on and win.
Having absorbed the early pressure, they took command, operating a 4-5-1 formation that nullified Pat's in midfield, and which saw the play gradually move into enemy territory.
From there, chance after chance was created, Craig Sives having four of them, all from set-pieces, until finally, after 71 minutes, he scored, looping a header over Brendan Clarke to suggest their season was finally about to kickstart.
Yet it wasn't to be. Clarke -- superb throughout -- saved from Gary Twigg with three minutes left, the second one-on-one stop he made, having denied Billy Dennehy in the first half.
Relieved and reprieved, Pat's pushed on. Flynn, in particular, really pushed on from full-back, and with seconds remaining on the clock, his forward burst saw him arrive in the Rovers penalty area unchecked, where he gratefully received Bolger's pass, controlled it with one touch and then hammered it in off the post with his second.
Shamrock Rovers -- Jansson; McCormack, Oman, Sives, Powell; McCabe (O'Neill 90), Finn (Turner 82), Rice , Brennan; Green (Dennehy 22), Twigg.
St Pat's -- Clarke; Flynn, Kenna, Browne, Carroll; Chambers, Russell, Bolger; J Kelly (Meenan 64), Flood, D Kelly (O'Connor 64).
Ref -- P Tuite (Dublin).