Will Jarvis seals satisfying win for Damien Duff as Shamrock Rovers fall behind

Duff rejected the attempts and instead made a “calm down” gesture before turning around to head towards the tunnel.

It is going to be difficult to calm the giddy levels after three wins in a week breathed new life into the idea of ​​Shelbourne emerging as unlikely title winners.

While Duff said on Monday that nothing compares to the feeling of winning in the 95th minute, he will have taken great professional satisfaction from his first win at Tallaght after some notable near misses. A couple of penalties won by Matty Smith, selected in the middle in a tactical change, will add to that.

It couldn’t have been delivered at a better time. Shelbourne are now six points clear of second-placed Derry City and nine ahead of a Rovers team who many still expect will eventually come to the fore. But that trust is being questioned.

This was Rovers’ fifth defeat in 19 games, one more than last season’s entire tally. With they not due to face Shels again until October, Stephen Bradley’s side are reaching a position where they are reliant on favours.

It will take some time to calculate this setback in front of 8,276 spectators. Bradley would have been happy with the situation when the game went beyond quarter of an hour.

Rovers were on top, looking more like champions with a strong team at their disposal. Jack Byrne and Graham Burke were deemed fit to start supporting lone striker Johnny Kenny, while the presence of first-choice full-backs Trevor Clarke and Neil Farrugia adds another dimension to the back-to-back four winners.

Duff had made some tactical adjustments to try to nullify Farrugia’s threat, but Rovers were still the better team from the start and Clarke had hit the woodwork twice before Kenny fired a dangerous Burke cross wide of the post. So far so good for Rovers apart from an early scare when Evan Caffrey, Monday’s hero at Richmond Park, misjudged a long ball over the top. That warning was not heeded.

From the goal kick that followed Kenny’s mistake, Conor Kearns launched a rocket in the direction of the Rovers half which Josh Honohan allowed to pass in front of him, a move that caught Pico Lopes off guard and allowed Matty Smith run behind. A retreating Lopes was adjudged to have fouled Smith just inside the area and Will Jarvis stepped up to convert.

In an instant, the game took a complete turn. And things went from bad to worse for Rovers afterwards as they lost three players to injuries before the break, including two members of the back three and Daniel Cleary suffered a muscle problem before Honohan was sidelined with a collision. heads. Markus Poom once again had to play an unfamiliar role on the left of the back three, with Aaron McEneff introduced in midfield and the other substitute Lee Grace switching sides to the right.

Rovers were trying to regain their rhythm after the reshuffle when Clarke left to be replaced by Aaron Greene, with the initial danger man feeling the effects of an earlier incident. Rovers enjoyed some good moments in the half but almost went two down after Poom gifted the ball to Jarvis, although the Estonian did well to come back and help distract the England winger.

The Rovers staff had their hands full in the interval but would have been reasonably happy with the way they resumed, keeping Shels back for a while. Duff walked down the flank looking to make a defensive substitution with Tyreke Wilson replaced by John O’Sullivan. But it was an unusual dilemma for the league leaders. Sitting against this Rovers team was risky as they haven’t really been weakened in the attacking department and giving Burke and Byrne space to act as quarterbacks is risky. More to the point, Rovers had a patched-up rearguard that would never have imagined forming a union at the start of the night.

But the visitors were still helped on the decisive counter-attack which removed doubts over the result with Poom, who looked uncomfortable with his position, conceding possession cheaply again to start a Shels break with Jarvis sent into space and controlling in this one. chance to find Smith breaking in and receiving a foul from Lopes which was enough for a second yellow card. Jarvis’s second penalty was better than the first, a confident right hand into the top corner that gave Pohls no chance.

Rovers didn’t let their heads hang, but two goals down and a man down against a team that doesn’t give away goals nearly meant they were doomed to another punch in the gut with Shels switching to a back three as they softened their game. on the way to three beautiful points that will make it impossible to avoid questions about where it could take them

Clover Rovers: Pohls, Cleary (Grace 28), Lopes, Honohan (McEneff 34); Farrugia, Poom, Nugent, Clarke; Burke, Byrne (Noonan 82); Kenny

Shelbourne: Kearns, Gannon, Barrett, Molloy, Ledwidge; Lunney (Williams 75), Coyle, Caffrey (Farrell 90); O’Sullivan (Wilson 56), Smith (Hakiki 76), Jarvis (Boyd 76)

Referee: Paul McLaughlin