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Goal can't lift gloom for Sheppard

ANOTHER AWAY day and another away goal as Shamrock Rovers kept up their superb record of nicking goals on foreign soil in European competition.

The Hoops have now gone to Belgrade, London and Thessalonika and brought back at least an away goal, a welcome change of fortunes, given that Irish clubs playing in the precursor to the Europa League (UEFA Cup) managed to go from 1986 to 2000 without scoring a single away goal.

"Even though I scored, I feel very down on a personal level because I thought we'd get a draw or maybe even a win," said Rovers striker Karl Sheppard after he achieved the feat of scoring away to PAOK, the first goal that the Greeks have conceded at home in seven games this season.

Sheppard, who beat PAOK's keeper Kostas Chalkias from a Billy Dennehy corner three minutes into the second half, went on: "It's nice to have on the CV that I came here, did well and scored.

"It was good to score with my head as well. At the start of this season, Michael O'Neill said that heading was the worst part of my game and I needed to work on it. I have done that and I think that one last night was my ninth goal this season from a header.

"It was a nice ball in from Billy, I managed to lose my man and get a clean header on it, it was something off the cuff. Stevie O'Donnell said just before the corner that we needed a bit more movement from set pieces so I did that and was able to lose my marker and get a free header," added Sheppard, who got himself booked by the Finnish referee for dissent, though the former Everton player was unhappy with the official.

"I don't think enough decisions on the night went our way. There were a few scandalous decisions by the referee that went against us. Some of the decisions were beyond belief, I couldn't believe the one that got me booked. There's an official behind the goal who is meant to see those incidents but even he said it was a goal kick.

"I couldn't believe it and that's why my reaction was so animated," he admits.

"When PAOK come to Dublin we'll be going for the win, no doubt about that.

"They are a good side, they pass the ball nicely, but we have shown that we belong here. We deserve to be in the Europa League, we're worth our place at this level.

"We really thought we'd come here and get a point at least, we had them rattled early in the second half.

"It's nice to have a Europa League goal on the CV but we're putting that to one side now and just looking to the UCD game on Monday night."