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Shamrock Rovers 3-1 Drogheda United

Updated: Friday, 27 Sep 2013 22:30 | Comments

Thomas Stewart scored on the double for the Hoops
Thomas Stewart scored on the double for the Hoops

Two goals from Thomas Stewart helped Shamrock Rovers to a 3-1 victory over Drogheda United and brought them back into contention for a Europa League place.

Derry City’s defeat to Bohemians means they are just three points ahead of the Hoops in the battle for fourth spot.

The Candystripes have the benefit of a game in hand against bottom side Shelbourne, but the sides still have to meet at the Brandywell.

Goals from Stewart and Gavin Brennan saw the sides go in level at the break after a largely uneventful first half.

Gary McCabe drilled Rovers back in front just after the hour mark, before Stewart completed the scoring from close-range in the 91st minute.

This repeat of last weekend's EA Sports Cup final was lacking in atmosphere and it was very much a case of after the Lord Mayor’s show.

It was the third game in less than a week for both of these sides, so it was no surprise to see much-changed line-ups.

Rovers made nine changes from the team beaten in Limerick on Tuesday, while Drogheda started with just six of the players who lost in Cork on the same night.

Drogheda had started with some intent, but it was the home side that enjoyed most of the possession in the opening half. Stewart fired over on 15 minutes after neat link-up play from Richie Ryan and Billy Dennehy.

Rovers could then have had a penalty after keeper Gabriel Sava appeared to trip McCabe after stumbling on the ball.

The keeper was culpable for the opening goal as he fumbled Conor Powell’s shot into the path of Stewart. The striker had the simple task of tapping home his first league goal this season.

Even though Drogheda had been quiet in attack, the sides were on even terms at the break. An interchange of passes on the break between Paul O’Conor and Gavin Brennan ended with Brennan slotting the ball past Barry Murphy.

The second half followed a similar pattern to the first. McCabe went close to putting the home side back in front on 52 minutes when he smashed a shot off the crossbar with Sava well beaten.

At the other end, Graham Rusk had a chance to put his side ahead after a defensive error by Stewart saw him through on goal, but his dragged his shot wide.

Drogheda were made to pay for that miss, as McCabe fired in the Rovers second on 63 minutes. The shot from outside the area was well struck, but Sava will be disappointed that it flew through his hands on the way into the net.

The game had sparked into life and Drogheda responded as Gavin Brennan’s low cross was just beyond the reach of Rusk with the goal at his mercy.

Drogheda almost snatched an equaliser as Gavin Brennan squared the ball to substitute Declan O’Brien. It looked harder to miss than score but O’Brien’s shot skimmed the bar.

The visitors were prone to Rovers counter-attacks as they pressed forward late on and the three points were finally wrapped up in injury-time.

Sava excelled in keeping out a strike from substitute Mark Quigley. However, the ball dropped to Stewart, who took his time before knocking the ball into the net.

Shamrock Rovers: Barry Murphy; Pat Sullivan, Derek Foran, Ken Oman, Conor Powell; Richie Ryan, Shane Robinson; Sean O’Connor (Karl Sheppard 68), Gary McCabe, Billy Dennehy (Mark Quigley 87); Thomas Stewart.

Subs not used: Richard Brush, Danny Ledwith, Jason McGuinness, Conor McCormack, Stephen Rice.

Drogheda United: Gabriel Sava; Mick Daly, Alan McNally, Shane Grimes, Philip Hand; Eric Foley, Gavan Holohan (Cathal Brady h/t), Paul O’Conor (Ryan Brennan 61), David Cassidy, Gavin Brennan; Graham Rusk (72).

Subs not used: Mick Schlingermann, Peter Hynes, Jason Marks, Alan Byrne.

Referee: Paul Tuite.

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