Shamrock Rovers can't find a way past dogged Bohemians
For the second Friday in succession, a substantial Tallaght crowd were deprived of a goal as dogged Bohemians tenaciously hung on for a result that delighted the away section.
They required some fortune to hold out in the dying stages of this uninspiring clash with their arch-rivals, but Rovers did not do enough across the duration to feel hard done by. Too little, too late.
Cork came away from this venue last week with a point that was the product of a grizzled back four sticking to the task.
Keith Long’s Bohs were equally disciplined, yet they deserve extra credit considering they fielded 18-year-old rookie Stephen Best in the centre of defence. He showed admirable composure in the circumstances.
With champions Dundalk knocking in the goals at the top of the table, Rovers followers will be concerned that opposing sides are not fazed by coming to Dublin 24.
Pat Fenlon’s troops dominated possession for the majority of this derby, a situation that Bohs were happy to facilitate for long periods as they kept their shape and challenged the Hoops to play through them.
This strategy was effective and, before the interval, the only time that the hosts succeeded was when Keith Fahey, operating behind lone striker Mikey Drennan, burst into the area before he was denied by a sliding tackle from visiting netminder Dean Delany.
Otherwise, Rovers struggled to move the ball at pace, thus giving the Gypsies plenty of time to cover every move. The closest the locals came to a breakthrough was courtesy of a Sean O’Connor free that was nodded off target by Dave Webster.
Long had to plan for his first taste of this fixture without the presence of the experienced Anto Murphy, who was harshly dismissed in Tuesday’s defeat to Dundalk.
He resisted the temptation to bring the energetic Roberto Lopes back from his midfield role and that’s what paved the way for Best, the nephew of Irish international Leon, receiving a big opportunity to impress next to the solid Derek Prendergast.
Fenlon might feel that his team should have put the newcomer under pressure and as the hour mark approached, he reached the conclusion that he had one holding midfielder too many with Stephen McPhail withdrawn for Ryan Brennan
Long’s hard working unit continued to snap at Rovers’ heels, however, with Lopes full of battery power and Kealan Dillon sent in to replace Keith Buckley to charge up that department.
A reasonable spell followed for the Phibsborough men with Rovers frustration summed up by an unnecessary challenge from Dave O’Connor on Paddy Kavanagh that earned a deserved yellow
Best then switched off for a second to follow O’Connor into Paul Tuite’s notebook after Drennan caught him in possession.
As the game entered its final 15 minutes, it had more bookings than clear cut goalscoring opportunities.
Fenlon did send in Kieran Marty Waters with the hope that his direct running would give Bohs a fresh problem and he burrowed into the area and could possibly have gone down under close attention from Lorcan Fitzgerald, but he kept his feet and Tuite was unmoved.
Waters did bring some life to proceedings, though, and his next act was to wander to the left and send in a cross which was met by a Brennan header and a fine stop by Dean Delany.
After Long sent in the veteran Jason Byrne in the hope of catching a break, Rovers turned the screw in search of a winner.
A series of crosses into the box culminated in a frantic scramble and a close range stab from Waters that Delany prevented from reaching its destination.
Bohs stood firm and even managed to probe into the Rovers half with a Dillon daisy-cutter giving Craig Hyland a task to complete.
But Fenlon had one more card to play in the shape of Danny North and in injury time he nearly wrote himself into the headlines by stretching to meet a Waters centre but his header came back off the crossbar. Bohs, and Best, deserved the break.
Shamrock Rovers– Hyland, Madden, Webster, Kenna, O’Connor; Cregg, McPhail (R Brennan 61); O’Connor (Waters 71), Fahey, McCabe (North 85); Drennan
Bohemians – Delany, Pender, Prendergast, Best, Fitzgerald; Lopes, Buckley (Dillon 61); Kavanagh, Creevy, Evans (Moore 75); Kelly (Byrne 79)
ref – Paul Tuite (Dublin)