Oscar Jansson was the hero of the night as his decisive penalty save in the shoot out gave Shamrock Rovers victory over their fiercest of rivals Bohemians in the Leinster Senior Cup. It was a dramatic night in Tallaght, but the lacklustre first half gave us no indication of the drama that was to follow.
Both teams fielded players that may not feature week in week out for the rest of the season and it seemed to contribute to a lack of fluency from both teams in the opening minutes. Former Bohemians player Aaron Greene had the first half chance of the game for Rovers when his shot was blocked down after a Sean Dixon cross.
Shamrock Rovers plans were not helped when Stephen Kenny was forced into a change after 11 minutes. Gary McCabe suffered an injury which saw Rovers exciting U19 striker Dean Ebbe enter the fray. This lead to a reshuffle with Aaron Greene moved to the wing.
Bohs threatened the Rovers goal occasionally in the first half, most notably with a shot from Neil Harney and a John O’Connor header. However, as the half wore on, Rovers started to gain the ascendancy in the game. Greene began to influence the game more from the wings and substitute Ebbe had a number of chances.
Rovers lost another player to injury on 29 minutes, when Chris Turner was replaced by Niall Forrester. The last chance of the half fell to Bohemians but Lee Dixon headed wide from an Andrew Mulligan cross.
After only two minutes of the second half this tie came to life. Sean Dixon got on the end of a Donal Branagan long ball and showed a great touch and strength to place his shot beyond the goalkeeper and in of the post.
Bohemians needed to change things to get back into the game and on 57 minutes Aaron Callaghan brought on Dan Mahon for Daniel Byrne. This almost had the desired effect as Mahon had a speculative effort go just wide after two minutes on the pitch.
Bohemians started to play with a lot more freedom after the Rovers goal and Lee Dixon in particular was influential in bringing them back into the game.
It was an excellent delivery from a Dixon free which lead to the Bohs equaliser on 61 minutes. Pat Seery applied a deft touch with his head to divert the cross goalwards and beyond the reach of Jannsson.
Despite some good play from Dixon for Bohemians and Aaron Greene of Rovers, clear-cut chances were at a premium.
The game seemed to then turn in Bohemians favour when Niall Forrester received a second yellow card for a needless lunge on Lee Dixon with six minutes remaining in the game.
Bohemians had a chance to claim victory in injury time when Dixon crossed but O’Connor and Mahon failed to connect with the ball.
30 minutes of extra time followed to try and separate the teams and again the 11 men of Bohemians had the best chances. A Mulcahy free in injury time of the first period was spilled by Rovers keeper Oscar Jansson. The ball fell to Dan Mahon but somehow he managed to put his shot over the bar.
The second period of extra time saw some desperate Rovers defending but also saw Bohs almost caught on the break a number of occasions. Despite some chances neither team could find a winner and the lottery that is the penalty shoot out followed.
Stephen O’Donnell stepped up first for Rovers and dispatched his penalty with ease to the keepers left and gave Rovers the early advantage. Dixon and Stewart for Bohs and Greene and Gartland for the Hoops also confidently scored their penalties to leave the score at 3-2 to Rovers. Enter Oscar Jansson as the Rovers keeper saved Neil Harney’s penalty. However the drama continued as Andy McNulty of Bohemians then saved Sean Gannon’s penalty. The next three penalties were scored to bring the tie to sudden death. Jack Memery scored for Rovers to make it 5-4 in the shootout. Oscar Jansson then decided the tie with an excellent save from Dave Mulcahy. The Rovers shot stopper ensured Rovers proud record against Bohemians in Tallaght remained intact, while Bohemians still search for their first elusive victory in their rival’s stadium.
Shamrock Rovers: Oscar Jansson; Sean Gannon, Jack Memery, Donal Branagan, Graham Gartland; Lorcan Shannon, Chris Turner (Niall Forrester, 29), Stephen O’Donnell, Gary McCabe (Dean Ebbe, 11); Aaron Greene, Sean Dixon (Paul Moffat, 86).
Subs not used: Lee Steacy (GK), Thomas O’Rourke, James Mullaney, Marc Keeley.
Bookings: Ebbe (19), Memery (47), Forrester (83).
Sendings Off: Forrester (85).
Bohemians: Andy McNulty; Michael Barker, Philip McCabe, Paddy Seery, Neil Harney; Daniel Byrne (Dan Mahon 56), Lee Dixon, Dave Mulcahy, Keith Buckley (Rafael Barreto 74); John O’Connor, Andrew Mulligan (Sean Stewart 67).
Subs not used: Greg Murray (GK), Davy Byrne, Correy Davidson, Keith Murray.
Bookings: Mulcahy (82).
Referee: Rhona Daly.
Extratime.ie man of the match: Lee Dixon (Bohemians).
Paul Walsh is a part-time freelance journalist based in Dublin and freelancing for a number of publications. Follow him on twitter @walshpots