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Twigg reignites Rovers' title push

TURNS out bread and butter's not so bad after all.

After a three-week break for the glamour of the European Championships, the League of Ireland returned with a rip-roaring Dublin derby that saw Shamrock Rovers come from behind twice and close the gap on Sligo to five points at the top.

Despite twice holding the lead, the Reds couldn't hold on and Gary Twigg stole it with a fortuitous winner 10 minutes from time as he pounced on Gary McCabe's mis-hit shot to score.

It had looked so good for Shels, who started the better, and Rovers' Swedish goalkeeper Oscar Jansson did well to deny David Cassidy inside two minutes, before tipping over Philly Hughes' audacious 40-yard dipping effort.

Shels wouldn't be denied from the corner, though. Cassidy's deep delivery was met by Anto Murphy, whose effort was clawed away by Jansson.

Stephen Paisley's attempt was cleared off the line and the ball bobbled around the six-yard box for an eternity until Paul Byrne managed to get it past the green and white wall on the line.

Rovers were jolted to life and a quick throw-in from Billy Dennehy nearly brought dividends, but Conor Powell's effort was deflected over by Paisley. From the corner, Graham Gartland's firm header was tipped up, but not away, by Dean Delany, and Twigg pounced to level.

Shels' job got all the harder when Murphy needlessly launched himself at Powell, with both feet off the ground, and caught his former Bohemians team-mate. Referee Tom Connolly had little choice but to dismiss the winger.


Alan Mathews' team coped well with the loss; goalscorer Byrne was sacrificed in a rejig that saw Conan Byrne introduced on the right wing. The switch nearly worked when the sub cracked an angled drive that Jansson did brilliantly to tip around the post as the sides went in level at the break.

Byrne could have given the 10-men the lead just after the interval when Powell allowed a Paddy Kavanagh cross to skip past him, but the lurking winger's header was too close to Jansson.

McCabe went close with a curled free-kick that skipped past the post as the champions regained control, but they lacked the cutting edge needed to carve the resolute Reds open.

And they were vulnerable on the break as they kept allowing Hughes room to run at them. It would cost them dearly.

Hughes sent Cassidy down the right and he fed Kavanagh, who fired into the side netting.

Then he set Kevin Dawson running and when the midfielder was dispossessed the ball fell to Hughes on the edge of the box.

What followed was magical as the he left four Rovers defenders for dead with quick feet before unleashing an unstoppable drive past Jansson.

The lead lasted just four minutes, though, as the champions got the slice of luck they needed.

McCabe had just had an effort blocked by Paisley when he tried again and this time Brian Shortall's touch just deceived Delany and spun past the stricken goalkeeper.

Delany did well to deny Dennehy and Aaron Greene in quick succession, but he could do little as Twigg poached his second goal to reignite Rovers' season.

SHELBOURNE -- Delany; Ryan, Paisley, Shortall, Clancy (Hurley 84); Murphy, Dawson, Cassidy, Kavanagh; P Byrne (C Byrne 30), Hughes.

SHAMROCK ROVERS -- Jansson; Gilbert (Turner 35), Gartland, Oman, Powell; McCabe, McCormack, Finn, Dennehy; O'Neill (Greene 68), Twigg.

REF -- T Connolly (Dublin).

Irish Independent