Shamrock Rovers showed tremendous fighting spirit to come from behind and see off Derry City 4-2 in an action-packed encounter at the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium.
Trailing to goals from Ronan Boyce and Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe, the Tallaght men really sparked into life after Graham Burke pulled a goal back before the break and second-half goals from Ronan Finn, Rory Gaffney and Richie Towell sealed a deserved victory that keeps them top of the table on goal difference.
Confusion reigned prior to kick-off as Sean Gannon dropped out of the original team-sheet and was replaced by Finn. Gannon was seen training on his own instead.
But the last-minute change didn't effect the visitors as some neat play by Rovers in the early stages ended with Danny Mandroiu's 25-yard-drive easily gathered by Derry goalkeeper Nathan Gartside.
Derry broke the deadlock on 21 minutes thanks to some good battling play by Junior, which meant the Londoner won possession from Roberto Lopes, before passing to Will Fitzgerald inside the Rovers penalty area.
He in turn slid the ball across the six-yard box and right-back Boyce gratefully side-footed home from close range.
Ronan Boyce opens the scoring!— SSE Airtricity League (@SSEAirtricityLg) July 16, 2021
The Derry City man finishes from close range to give his side the advantage ??
24' @derrycityfc 1-0 @ShamrockRovers
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Rovers keeper Alan Mannus was called into action just before the half-hour mark as Fitzgerald’s flick-on found Junior and his first-time strike had to be tipped over by the 39-year-old net-minder.
Derry were awarded a penalty from Jack Malone’s resulting corner after Lopes was adjudged to have brought down Junior inside the box. Referee Rob Hennessy pointed to the spot and the Dundalk loanee dusted himself down and blasted home the resulting spot-kick.
The Hoops deservedly pulled a goal back on 41 minutes as Eoin Toal’s header only fell to Burke on the edge of the box and he fired home from 20 yards, drilling the ball low into the bottom right-hand corner.
Just before the break, the visitors went close to levelling things but Dylan Watts’ 25-yard piledriver was parried away by Gartside.
Rovers equalised on 55 minutes following a fantastic passing move which saw Aaron Greene release Liam Scales down the left. The defender’s centre found an in-rushing Finn, who calmly side-footed home from close range.
The champions continued to pile forward and took the lead for the first time on 61 minutes as substitute Gaffney broke clear down the left to latch onto Burke’s pass, before unleashing a super drive from a tight angle, which went in off the underside of the crossbar.
What a comeback! ??— SSE Airtricity League (@SSEAirtricityLg) July 16, 2021
Rory Gaffney hammers home from a tight angle to give @ShamrockRovers the lead ??
65' @derrycityfc 2-3 @ShamrockRovers
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Rovers increased their lead on 73 minutes as Burke’s clever flick picked out Towell, who ran straight through the Derry back-line before coolly finishing from just inside the box.
In the closing stages, Gartside had to keep out Burke’s clever free-kick and also managed to deny Scales from the follow-up.
Derry City: Nathan Gartside, Ronan Boyce, Eoin Toal, Cameron McJannet, Ciaran Coll (Patrick Ferry 73); Will Fitzgerald (Jamie McGongile 60), Ciaron Harkin, Jack Malone (Darren Cole 60), Danny Lafferty; James Akintunde, Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe.
Shamrock Rovers: Alan Mannus, Ronan Finn (Max Murphy 86), Roberto Lopes, Lee Grace (Rory Gaffney HT), Liam Scales, Sean Kavanagh; Dylan Watts, Danny Mandroiu (Richie Towell HT), Gary O’Neill; Graham Burke (Dylan Duffy 91), Aaron Greene (Dean McMenamy 86).
Referee: Rob Hennessy (Dublin)