Tuesday 20 August 2019

Shamrock Rovers to play with 'no fear' in Cypriot Euro cauldron

Shamrock Rovers midfielder Jack Byrne during the squad’s run-out at the GSP
Stadium in Nicosia last night. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
Shamrock Rovers midfielder Jack Byrne during the squad’s run-out at the GSP Stadium in Nicosia last night. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Paul Buttner

He may indeed relish the heat, but Dan Carr knows it's all about Shamrock Rovers keeping cool heads in sweltering Nicosia this evening (kick-off 6.0).

Apollon Limassol's Argentinian midfielder Esteban Sachetti was sent off for a nasty challenge on Hoops' talisman Jack Byrne as Rovers stunned the fancied Cypriots to come from behind to win last week's first leg 2-1 at Tallaght Stadium.

And the expected 26 degrees dead heat at the 8pm local kick-off time in the GSP Stadium tonight will be just another factor for Rovers to deal with against a wounded Apollon who went into the tie as warm favourites.

Stephen Bradley's side showed admirable discipline last week as a frustrated Apollon left their foot in during the second half. Aaron McEneff also suffered a head cut from Sachetti's errant elbow.

Self-control And Carr knows that self-control will be needed again tonight.

"I love the heat. My room is like a sauna," quipped Carr who is very much claiming the first goal credited to Lee Grace last week.

"It will be difficult to run around and play in this heat. But we came out a day earlier so we can acclimatise to it."

Not retaliating to provocation will also be crucial.

"We remained professional. We didn't lose our heads," said Carr of the good temperament shown by Rovers in the first leg. "We were quite pleased with the way we handled it."

Carr insists that Rovers must also go out and play without fear tonight.

"If you play with fear then you are never going to succeed the way you should," said Carr. "Nothing changes tonight. We go out with no fear and what will be will be."

Londoner Carr scored away to AIK Stockholm last summer. Another goal tonight, to also add to the one he's claiming last week, wouldn't go amiss either.

"One hundred per cent it's mine," said Carr of Rovers' first leg equaliser which has been given to defender Grace whose header hit a post. "It hadn't crossed the line. If I don't tap it in, the defender clears it away. I'll be on to UEFA!"

Bradley is without Graham Cummins who suffered concussion in Cork on Sunday while Neil Farrugia is not yet fit following a hamstring injury. Graham Burke, who re-signed on loan from Preston yesterday, is ineligible.

The Rovers manager is prepared for a big reaction from Apollon who've qualified for the group stages of this competition four times in the previous six seasons.

"They're obviously going to try to improve on what they showed last week," said Bradley. "But I'm sure we can as well. Tonight is about getting our game-plan right and make sure we impose ourselves on them when we have spells in the game.

"We're not coming here to sit back and hope to get a result. We'll impose our game on them. We'll be going to score and win the game. You can't sit in hoping to get a draw. If you do that you are asking to get beat.

"We won't do that. We'll go to try to win the game from the first minute."

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