Saturday 18 November 2017

Zayed ensures Rovers go top

Eamon Zayed, Shamrock Rovers
Eamon Zayed, Shamrock Rovers

Eamon Zayed's third league goal of the season was enough for Shamrock Rovers to see off Athlone Town 1-0 at Tallaght Stadium and go top of the Premier Division.

Another turgid home performance by Rovers meant it wasn't until the hour mark that they began to find their groove.

Firstly, Gary McCabe struck the foot of the post with a free after Graham Rusk had conceded a foul on the edge of the box.

Then, four minutes after coming on, Zayed struck the 66th-minute winner with a sublime 30-yard volley from the inside right position after Ronan Finn's long pass had found him in space.

Ciaran Kilduff should have finished off basement side Athlone nine minutes from the end when he rounded goalkeeper Paul Skinner, but his tame shot was cleared off the line by Stephen Quigley.

Shamrock Rovers: Murphy; Madden, McGuinness, Cornwall, Byrne; McPhail, R Brennan (Zayed 62); McCabe, Finn, Waters (O'Connor 62); Kilduff.

Athlone Town: Skinner; Quigley (McMahon 82), Prendergast, Brennan (Marks 71), Clancy; Rusk, Dillon, Byrne, O'Brien, S Brennan (Sweeney 82); Gorman.

Referee: D McKeown (Dublin).

RUSSELL STEALS SHOW FOR SLIGO

John Russell scored a "screamer'' as Sligo Rovers dismissed Bray Wanderers 3-0 at the Showgrounds.

The midfielder smashed home a brilliant left-footed volley on 56 minutes as Rovers moved above Bray.

Seven days after his Setanta Cup heroics, Paul O'Conor opened the scoring with another close-range finish after 19 minutes.

Russell's stunning volley enlivened a lacklustre second half before substitute Eric Odhiambo wrapped up the win with a third in the closing stages after he was teed up by Sean Maguire.

Sligo Rovers: Rogers; Conneely, Henderson, McMillan, Gaynor, Cawley, O'Conor, Russell, Greene (Odhiambo 75), Ledwith (Donelon 90), North (Maguire 85).

Bray Wanderers: McGuinness; Webster, D O'Connor, Zambra, McGlynn, Cassidy, G Kelly (S Byrne 67), Curran, O'Neill (Akinade 71), Scully, Hanlon (Browne 88).

Referee: A Buttimer (Cork).

SAINTS SAVOUR CUP TRIUMPH

St Johnstone won the William Hill Scottish Cup for the first time in the club's 130-year history with a 2-0 victory over Dundee United at Celtic Park.

United midfielder Ryan Dow hit the post before Saints defender Steven Anderson headed in a David Wotherspoon corner as a pulsating first half moved into stoppage time.

Tannadice striker Nadir Ciftci struck the bar with a free-kick in the second half and the Saints had to defend for their lives at times before striker Steven MacLean ensured history would be made with a second after 83 minutes to send their 15,000 fans into raptures.

The McDiarmid Park side were appearing in their first final of the competition and few outside Tannadice will begrudge them the trophy, albeit they rode their luck at times against a side they had beaten three times in four Scottish Premiership meetings this season.

BURTON SECURE PLAY-OFF PLACE

Burton boss Gary Rowett felt his side had triumphed against the odds after they sank Southend in a dramatic League Two play-off semi-final at Roots Hall.

The Brewers sealed a trip to Wembley thanks to a second-half winner from Adam McGurk which secured a 2-2 draw on the day and a 3-2 aggregate win.

"We have lost five or six players to injury and suspension, and yesterday the team bus broke down," said Rowett. "I couldn't tell you the things we have had to deal with over the last two weeks. But sometimes out of adversity comes triumph. The lads are bouncing around drinking champagne but I'm exhausted!"

UNITED SIGN SERB 'KEEPER

Managerless Manchester United have agreed a deal with FK Vojvodina to sign Serbia youth goalkeeper Vanja Milinkovic, the Premier League club said yesterday.

The 17-year-old will stay with the Serbian side next season before moving to Old Trafford to provide competition for first choice No. 1 David de Gea. Milinkovic's transfer is the first by the 20-times English champions since they sacked manager David Moyes, who replaced Alex Ferguson, in April after a disappointing first campaign. Dutch coach Louis van Gaal is expected to be announced as the new head coach of United.

INTER AIMING TO SIGN INCE

Inter Milan sporting director Piero Ausilio has revealed the Italian giants have made an approach to sign Tom Ince.

The 22-year-old forward finished the season on loan at Crystal Palace, but with his Blackpool contract coming to a finish his future is up in the air.

Ince's father Paul played for Inter and Ausilio revealed Tom could yet follow in his footsteps.

"It's definitely not a done deal for Tom Ince," he said. "Him coming to Inter is an intriguing possibility as his dad played here, but nothing's been agreed yet."

MADRID WORRY FOR RONALDO

Gareth Bale helped Real Madrid close its La Liga season with a victory that was tempered by concerns over the health of Cristiano Ronaldo before the Champions League final.

Ronaldo was expected to play in the 3-1 win over Espanyol but came off during pre-match warm-ups. The Portugal forward continues to be bothered by a leg muscle problem.

Bale scored in the 64th minute before Alvaro Morata's late pair either side of a goal by Espanyol's Luis "Pizzi" Afonso. The game also saw Madrid striker Karim Benzema limp off clutching his left hamstring.

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