By Killian McHale

Shamrock Rovers came from 2-0 down to secure a 2-2 draw in our latest Dublin Derby against Shelbourne FC on Friday night, as goals from Graham Burke & Roberto Lopes earned the Hoops a point at Tallaght Stadium

Coming into this clash on the back of three consecutive wins, Stephen Bradley made three changes to his starting-eleven with Dan Cleary, Sean Kavanagh and Neil Farrugia all coming back into the side.

It took a while for Rovers to settle into the game, with the visitors twice forcing Alan Mannus in the Rovers goal to be on high alert, with the veteran ‘keeper saving well from both Matty Smith and Jack Boylan.

With 18 minutes on the clock, it was indeed the away side who broke the deadlock in an unusual fashion. A short corner in front of a packed-out South Stand was eventually crossed in by Matty Smith before Graham Burke sliced his attempted clearance in off Alan Mannus’ right-hand post to give Shels the lead.

In a half that lacked quality in the final third, Rovers enjoyed most of the possession without carving out any clear-cut opportunities in the opening half. The Rovers rear-guard had to be on high alert minutes before half-time when Matty Smith got in behind the Rovers defence, before going to ground inside the box, with referee Neil Doyle waving away Shels’ claims for a penalty.

Looking to provide a bigger goal threat in the second half, the Hoops made a double substitution at half-time, with Richie Towell and Gary O’Neill both being brought on in the hope of changing the game around.

Towell almost made an instant impact, heading just wide from 9 yards after a lofted ball in from the right wing from Dan Cleary.

However, within six minutes of the restart, things went from bad to worse when Matty Smith eventually got his goal to double the visitor’s lead, after latching onto the end of a Jack Moylan through-ball following a swift counter-attack into the Rovers half.

Shels’ two-goal lead didn’t last long before Graham Burke cancelled out his own-goal in the first half with a sublime 25-yard effort after 54 minutes that looped over Conor Kearns in the Shelbourne net and into the top-left corner to give Rovers fans hope of getting something from the game.

Wing-back Shane Farrell came inches away from retaking the lead for the away side, after firing an effort just wide from an acute angle inside the Rovers penalty area.

With 20 minutes remaining in the game, Stephen Bradley brought on Roberto Lopes in place of Dan Cleary in the heart of the Rovers defence, and just minutes later it was our Cape Verdean international who levelled the scoring with a clever header at the back-post from a Jack Byrne set-piece delivery – Lopes’ first of the season.

Johnny Kenny and Graham Burke both came close to nicking all three points for the Hoops late on, but neither could find the back of the net, as Rovers were forced to settle for a point in Tallaght, extending our unbeaten run to seven games.

Rovers move up to third place in the league table now, as the Hoops make the short journey to Inchicore next Friday to take on St. Patrick’s Athletic in yet another Dublin Derby. Kick-off in Richmond Park next week is at 7:45 pm.

Shamrock Rovers: Mannus; Hoare, Grace ©, Cleary (68’ Lopes); Farrugia, Watts (46’ O’Neill), Poom, Kavanagh (46’ Towell); Byrne, Burke, Gaffney (62’ Kenny).

Shamrock Rovers Unused Substitutes: Toms Leitis (GK), Ronan Finn, Aaron Greene, Darragh Nugent, Conan Noonan.

Shelbourne: Kearns; Quinn, Barrett, Griffin; Farrell, Caffrey, Lunney, Wilson; McManus (58’ Ledwidge), Moylan (82’ Leavy), Smith (90’ Robinson).

Shelbourne Unused Susbtitutes: Scott van-der-Sluis (GK), Jad Hakiki, Luke Byrne, Gbemi Arubi, David Toure, Luke Browne.

Attendance: 6,835.