Shane Robinson is Hoops hero
FIXTURE list fatigue seems to have caught up with Shamrock Rovers as they had to come from behind to secure a point away to Bohemians last night.
In a gritty and gripping Dublin derby in front of 2,296 fans at Dalymount Park it was a man from Waterford who scored the crucial goal, Shane Robinson getting the final touch after a penalty save seven minutes from time, the goal from the Rovers man cancelling out a stunning strike from Derek Pender.
This was the fourth game in 12 days and they face another test of their energies on Friday night, away to St Patrick's Athletic in a key match in that battle for a Europa League place, with another big test against league leaders Dundalk on the way just after that.
But for all their possession last night Rovers still needed a late goal to take away a point and a win away to Pats on Friday is now essential, if the Hoops are to qualify for Europe via the league.
Rovers boss Pat Fenlon made voluntary changes to his XI as a nod to their very busy fixture list so players like Ciarán Kilduff - in for his first league start in 12 games - and Shane Robinson got a run-out. Robinson joined in the fray in a crowded midfield but, like the rest of the players in that part of the field, he struggled to get enough time on the ball in a tight opening 45 minutes.
Bohs had an early chance, on eight minutes, when Pat Kavanagh tried an overhead kick from a Karl Moore corner but the effort was wide.
Just before half time Bohs threatened with the best move of the game thus far. Aidan Price started the move by winning the ball with a crunching tackle, the rebound fell for Keith Buckley and his effort dropped kindly for Dave Mulcahy, but the Bohs skipper headed wide.
Rovers did look a lot stronger in the early stages of the second half, though home keeper Dean Delany still had not a lot to do. On 53 minutes Rovers right-back Simon Madden went on a strong run and put in a decent cross but it fell just too short for Ryan Brennan, just after that Gary McCabe had a chance from a free kick but failed to find the target, and on 63 minutes sub Kieran Marty Watters flashed a header wide.
That passage of play seemed to spark a reaction from Bohs and they mounted a real threat on 63 minutes, captain Mulcahy getting a powerful header on the end of a Pender cross and Barry Murphy in the Rovers goal had to concede a corner.
But on 65 minutes Bohs got the break they had been searching for, from that unlikely source of Pender. He hadn't scored a goal all season but, having gained a taste for the goal-scoring plaudits in the FAI Cup defeat to St Pats two weeks ago, he came up with his first league goal of the campaign.
Former Rovers player Pender stormed his way into the Hoops box, played a clever one-two with Kavanagh and he then unleashed a drive which gave his former Rovers team-mate Barry Murphy no chance.
Aware that defeat would make it hard for Rovers to achieve their aim of putting St Pats under pressure in the race for third place, Pat Fenlon's side tried to get back into the game and salvage a point at least.
But seven minutes from the end Rovers got their equaliser. Lopes put in a clumsy challenge on Watters in the box, referee Paul Tuite awarded a penalty and while Delany did well to save the spot kick from Dean Kelly, Robinson reacted quickly to the rebounding ball and claimed his goal and while Steven Beattie almost nicked a winner for Bohs on 88 minutes but Murphy made a key save.