Friday 23 February 2018

Sheppard stunner gives Rovers edge

There's usually a moment in every title race when everything falls into place for the eventual champions and the destination of the trophy seems set.

Shamrock Rovers, of course, still face the considerable challenge of Derry City on Thursday and Michael O'Neill will certainly not want his players thinking along those lines for the run-in. But it's still difficult to escape the feeling that this will prove the definitive weekend in the 2011 season.

For much of yesterday's match at the Carlisle Grounds, Rovers were edgy, anxious and seemingly unable to put any kind of shape on their play. And, for the second game in a row, they had surrendered a 1-0 lead and didn't look like reclaiming it.

Then, a minute from the end, a superb Ciaran Kilduff cross found Karl Sheppard, who brilliantly thundered in his second of the game. Sheppard had earlier given Rovers a seventh-minute lead, showing his opportunism after Darren Quigley had parried Chris Turner's effort onto the bar.

With Gary Dempsey a growing influence in the second half, Bray took the initiative and were worth their 64th-minute equaliser -- even if it was somewhat fortuitous. A Dempsey free-kick from out wide flew straight across the box and into Richard Brush's net.

Relieved Rovers manager O'Neill admitted: "We were edgy, but the players dug in and turned it around. It was a great winning goal. I'm delighted for them because these games aren't easy. It's about results now. People think we should just turn up here and win, but teams aren't going to let us do that."

"Obviously a draw would have been a big result for Bray. If you are not attending the party, the next best thing is to spoil it and that's what we are going to face between now and the end of the season."

BRAY WANDERERS -- Quigley; Doyle, S O'Connor (Knight 70), Shields (Webster 37), Massey; Mulroy, Dempsey, D O'Connor, Waters; Murphy (Houston 45), Zambra.

SHAMROCK ROVERS -- Brush; Sullivan, Sives, Murray, Paterson; Dennehy (Ricketts 70), Finn, Turner (Rice 88), McCabe (Kilduff 81); Twigg, Sheppard

REF -- D McKeon (Dublin).

Irish Independent

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