Sunday 21 January 2018

'Kenny out' chants after latest Hoops stalemate

Shamrock Rvs 0 Bray Wnds 0

Cian O'Connell

IT was another grim night at Tallaght Stadium for Shamrock Rovers and Stephen Kenny.

For the second time in four days, the Hoops and their fans were bewildered by their inability to score from routine chances. FK Ekranas dealt with all that Rovers could muster in Tuesday's Champions League second qualifying round tussle and last night Bray summoned up a gutsy display to eke out a draw.

With crucial contests arriving thick and fast for Rovers, this just was the latest edition of a harrowing on-going story for Kenny's team.

Sligo Rovers, on the way back from Slovakia, were the only winners as the Hoops failed to seriously cut into the table-toppers' advantage last night.

It wasn't supposed to be like this for under-fire Kenny, who cut a frustrated figure in the technical area at the end. These are worrying times for the Dubliners, with a section of the home support chanting "We want Kenny out," following Alan Kelly's final whistle.

Menace

The opening period was simply a tale of frustration for Rovers, who bossed the game, but they failed to rattle the Bray net.

Rovers' passing was sharp, particularly in the centre of the park where Stephen O'Donnell, Chris Turner and Ronan Finn quickly gained control.

Out on the left flank, Billy Dennehy was a constant menace, but Rovers weren't clinical enough.

That was essentially what bothered the locals throughout the first half because Rovers were truly dominant, with Finn probing. Several chances were manufactured by the prominent Dennehy, who was causing Bray plenty of bother.

Despite Rovers' neat approach play, they were nearly rocked in the eighth minute when Bray's Adam Hanlon skipped clear in the area before firing badly wide. Rovers responded, with a blistering 16th-minute Finn effort bringing a fine save from Darren Quigley.

In the 22nd minute, Dennehy found Daryl Kavanagh in the area, but his shot was deflected over for a corner as Rovers continued to search for the lead goal their neat football deserved. Kavanagh headed a Dennehy cross wide and then, in the 34th minute, Bray somehow survived a real scare.

Finn drilled the ball across the face of the Bray goal, but Dennehy, under pressure from Shane O'Connor, was unable to apply the necessary finish.

Then as the interval loomed, skipper Ken Oman and Stephen O'Donnell limped out of the contest with leg injuries, forcing a defensive reshuffle.

And with the crowd becoming increasingly animated in the second half, the intensity levels went up a notch, but Bray were defiant.

Aware of the high stakes, Rovers weren't as polished with the ball, even though Finn dragged a 49th-minute attempt the wrong side of the post.

It was hotting up in every way but Kavanagh and substitute Gary McCabe both had efforts gathered by Quigley.

Then against the run of play, Jason Byrne made a headed connection with a Hanlon cross but Oscar Jansson saved.

Raw and edgy Rovers could have been punished for a defensive lapse on 76 minutes when John Mulroy released Byrne, who drilled his shot just inches wide.

McCabe was thwarted by the crossbar with 11 minutes left but Bray held out.

Shamrock Rovers -- Jansson; Sullivan, Oman (McCormack 36), Hawkins, Powell; Kavanagh (McCabe 61), Turner, Finn, O'Donnell (Brennan 37), Dennehy; O'Neill.

Bray Wanderers -- Quigley; S O'Connor, D O'Connor, Mitchell, Massey; Hanlon (Kelty 81), K O'Connor, Zambra, Houston; Mulroy, Byrne (Akinded 86).

Ref -- A Kelly (Cork).

Irish Independent

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