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Thursday 21 November 2019

It's derby woe for Saints

St Pat's Athletic 0-2 Shamrock Rovers

Sean Kavanagh of Shamrock Rovers celebrates scoring his side's second goal during the SSE Airtricity League match against St Patrick's Athletic at Richmond Park
Sean Kavanagh of Shamrock Rovers celebrates scoring his side's second goal during the SSE Airtricity League match against St Patrick's Athletic at Richmond Park

St Patrick's Athletic can only hope that European football offers them more joy than Dublin derbies after they fell to yet another defeat to their local rivals last night.

Shamrock Rovers made the short trip to Inchicore and, while they needed some patience to break down the Saints, this 2-0 win was a relatively stress-free occasion, thanks to goals from midfielders Greg Bolger and Sean Kavanagh.

Two of the next three games for Pat's are in the Europa League, against Swedish side Norrkoping, but it's the bread and butter of the local tests where they have struggled.

It's just one point now for Harry Kenny's side from their five clashes with Rovers and Bohemians, and a tame side never came close to ending that poor run last night.

Pat's stroked the ball around for long spells in the last 20 minutes but by that stage they were 2-0 down Rovers were unlikely to relinquish control on a relatively stress-free evening in front of 2,319 supporters, the win allowing the Hoops keep leaders Dundalk in their sights, at least.

The pressure was on the away side before a ball was kicked at a sun-kissed Richmond Park. Rovers had taken just one point from their previous three games and with Dundalk winning easily last night at home to a struggling Waterford side, defeat here would have been catastrophic in terms of the title race for Rovers.

And while it took time for the first goal to come - deep into first-half injury time - once the Hoops were in front there was no way back for the Saints, who are just about managing to stay in the top half of the table.

Bradley's side deserved their lead at the break as they were dominant in terms of possession and chances. Pat's only troubled Rovers once in that first 45 minutes, when former Rovers man Mikey Drennan should really have given Alan Mannus a sterner test with his shot.

That moment of danger on 21 minutes seemed to cause Rovers to move up a gear. They had been in control up to that point, without much to show in terms of end product, Pat's not helping themselves with some indecisive defending at times.

With the combination of no cutting edge from Rovers and some last-gasp defending from Pat's, it looked as if the frustration would seep into the second half for the away side.

But a minute into added time Bolger picked up on a pass from Byrne, bore down on goal and fired a shot past Brendan Clarke.

And on 49 minutes Rovers had the goal which killed off their rivals, and killed off the tie. Awarded a free kick on the edge of the area for a foul on Watts, Sean Kavanagh decided that he, and not the usual dead ball expert Jack Byrne, was taking it, and the effort went right past Brendan Clarke.

With winger Dean Clarke off the bench for the start of the second half, Pat's tried to spark a revival, but all they had to offer was half-chances.

On 60 minutes Cian Coleman headed wide of the target from a cross from Kevin Toner, while a minute later Drennan chanced an overhead kick but there was not the accuracy needed and it went wide.

Rovers needed right back Joey O'Brien to put his body on the line and block a dangerous-looking effort from sub James Doona, and on 83 minutes Lee Grace was on hand to clear the danger but Pat's looked toothless, and they'll need to find another gear in Europe or the Europa League campaign will be short-lived.

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