Stephen Bradley’s Shamrock Rovers became the longest unbeaten team in League of Ireland history with a comfortable win in Tallaght against Kevin Sheedy’s Waterford side.
Stephen Bradley made three changes to his side from Friday nights 2-0 win against Finn Harps for this afternoon’s encounter in Tallaght. Max Murphy, Sean Gannon & Aaron Greene all came into the starting-eleven in place of Joey O’Brien, Ronan Finn & Graham Burke, who all dropped to the bench.
Kevin Sheedy named the same starting line-up that lost 3-0 to Dundalk at the RSC on Friday. However, the Blues manager only named four substitutes on his team-sheet – compared to only 3 substitutes named on the Waterford bench on Friday – in “protest to poor officiating by the referees” in the Blues games so far this season.
Rovers started the game on top, and almost got off to the perfect start when a Lee Grace header from a Dylan Watts corner-kick was headed off the Waterford left-hand post. A sign as to what was to come.
No sooner had Waterford cleared the danger from Grace’s effort, Paul Martin had to get down low to deny Aaron Greene opening the scoring in the sixth minute. The breakthrough for the home side eventually came in the 13th minute.
After Adriano Reale, today’s referee, interfered with play. A drop ball to Rovers was awarded just outside the Waterford 18-yard box. Mandroiu received the “drop ball”, which ironically didn’t bounce due to the heavy rain that fell pre-game, who laid off to Rory Gaffney. The former Salford-man took one touch to turn before drilling his shot low past Paul Martin in the Waterford net to give the Hoops the lead.
Rovers continued to see more of the ball after Gaffney’s opener, but it was the visitor’s who had the next chance of the game. Jamie Mascoll’s corner-kick was met by the head of John Martin – twin of Blues keeper Paul – but the attacker couldn’t get a proper connection with the ball and the attack was short lived.
Rovers had chances to double their lead mid-way through the first-half through Gaffney, but Waterford defended well to keep the scoreline at 1-0.
Rovers eventually doubled their lead through Gary O’Neill in the 33rd minute. After Aaron Greene was fouled by Waterford captain Tunmise Sobowale, Danny Mandroiu laid off the free-kick to Watts. Watts’ second attempt found O’Neill in the six-yard box and despite Cameron Evans best effort to clear on the goal-line, the Rovers midfielder tapped in to make it 2-0 to the home side.
Rovers were then forced into an early substitution as Greene was unable to continue after that tackle by Sobowale, and Graham Burke came on in-place of the striker.
Waterford began to see more of the ball in the final minutes of the first-half. Their best chance of the half fell to James Waite, who cut inside from the right-wing, but could only see his effort fly over Alan Mannus’ crossbar in-front of the South Stand in the D24 venue.
Danny Mandroiu wrapped up the scoring nine minutes into the second-half. After great play from Max Murphy down the left-wing, the left-wing back found Mandroiu inside the Blues box. Despite getting a hand on the ball, Paul Martin was unable to keep out Mandroiu’s effort to make it 3-0 to The Hoops.
Both sides made substitutions as the flow of the game slowed down in the remaining half-an-hour in Tallaght. Rovers winger Neil Farrugia made his first-appearance of the season, replacing Max Murphy for the final twenty minutes. However, in the 87th minute, Rovers were forced to play the final few minutes with ten men as the former UCD-man was forced off with a hamstring injury – the same injury that caused him to miss the first eight games of the Premier Division campaign.
Shamrock Rovers and Waterford both picked up needless yellow-cards in the final quarter of the game, as Rovers comfortably saw out the game to pick up back-to-back clean sheets for the first time this season, and put themselves into the League of Ireland history books
Shamrock Rovers: Alan Mannus; Lee Grace (C), Sean Hoare, Liam Scales; Sean Gannon, Dylan Watts (55′ Chris McCann), Gary O’Neill, Max Murphy (68′ Neil Farrugia); Danny Mandroiu (55′ Dean Williams), Aaron Greene (35′ Graham Burke), Rory Gaffney (68′ Darragh Nugent).
Waterford FC: Paul Martin; Darragh Power, Tunmise Sobowale (C), Cameron Evans, Jamie Mascoll (61′ Jack Stafford); Katlego Mashigo, Adam O’Reilly, Niall O’Keeffe, James Waite; Prince Mutswunguma, John Martin.