New boys shine as Shamrock Rovers blow Bray Wanderers away
Shamrock Rovers 6 Bray Wanderers 0
IN normal circumstances, the sight of fans leaving early is bad news for Shamrock Rovers.
It was a different story here, however, as a sprinkling of home supporters were able to slip away and defrost safe in the knowledge that it was game over.
A five-goal cushion – which was increased to six in injury-time to give Stephen Bradley the most emphatic league win of his reign to date – was security enough.
The natives led at the break courtesy of a superb goal from Graham Burke, a flair player that can really do it on a cold Monday night in Tallaght.
But it was a four-goal burst inside 20 second-half minutes that really laid down a marker, with new recruits Seán Kavanagh and Daniel Carr making a positive impact on their first starts.
For a part-time Bray outfit, the Friday to Monday turnaround is always going to be a struggle. But that doesn’t quite excuse the collapse from a side that had actually competed quite well to the interval.
They looked out of sorts here, wearing a blue kit with no sponsor. On this evidence, a year of struggle lies ahead for Dave Mackey’s charges.
Both sides had come into this encounter with a point under their belt accrued from scoreless draws with Dundalk.
Bray followed their opening night result up with a loss to St Pat’s, while Rovers helped to erase the memories of their day one reverse to Bohs by holding Stephen Kenny’s side in the first leg of a quick-fire Tallaght double-header.
The crowd was considerably smaller on Monday night and the stakes were different too in that nothing less than victory would be acceptable.
He made four changes to his team, with Trevor Clarke’s return from suspension resulting in the formation of a new left-sided partnership with ex-Fulham man Kavanagh.
Clarke started at left-back with Kavanagh in midfield, although the roles did reverse during the first half.
In Clarke, Rovers have a precocious talent and the teenager showcased his range with some fine raids and deliveries merged with a booking for a late challenge which illustrated just why he was sidelined for the start of the campaign.
He continues to be trailed by cross-channel clubs – QPR were amongst the clubs represented here – but he remains a work in progress, albeit quite an exciting one.
Burke is another prodigious talent, the former Aston Villa youth having impressed in his debut year back home. The 24-year-old has the ability to light up the drabbest night, and fashioned an opener from nothing.
There was little on when he assumed control 25 yards from goal, but the Belvedere product changed the mood by unleashing a left-footer that left loanee goalkeeper Aaron Dillon rooted to the spot as the ball sailed over his head and found the net via the underside of the bar.
That was enough to give Rovers the lead at the interval, and they were comfortable enough even though Bray put together some nice passages of play.
In Gary McCabe and Aaron Greene, they have an experienced attacking combination and they were given chances in a spell before the interval where Rovers dropped back and were second best in possession.
They dominated from the restart, though, with the versatile Kavanagh switched to the right where he reallybegan to shine. Inside a minute, his accurate cross was dispatched by Brandon Miele.
It gave Rovers a cushion, and Kavanagh became increasingly prominent in his new berth, forcing a stop from Dillon with an excellent long-range attempt. And that was the sign of things to come as the avalanche really started.
Hard-working Englishman Carr made the third with sturdy work on the left and a precise cross that skipper Dave McAllister headed home.
Goal number four was dispatched by Carr himself when he rounded Dillon and converted into the empty net and the fifth was a superb free-kick that Kavanagh fired home from the edge of the area. A slick team move was converted by Miele at the death to complete the rout.
SHAMROCK ROVERS–Horgan, Boyle, Grace, Gilchrist, Clarke (Coustrain 73); McAllister, Bone; Miele, Burke (A Bolger 64), Kavanagh; Carr (Boyd 68).
BRAY WANDERERS – Dillon, McKenna, Douglas, Heaney (Kenna 80), Lynch; O’Conor (Sullivan 62) Noone; Coughlan, McCabe, Galvin (Pender 59); Greene.
REF – R Hennessey (Limerick)