Report: Ryan McMullen

3 points went the host’s way after they fought back to overturn a 1-0 half-time deficit, on a frustrating night at the office for the Hoops in Inchicore.

Following Monday’s win against Waterford, Stephen Bradley made 4 changes to the side that started at Richmond Park. The Hoops boss was forced to take Lee Grace out of the squad due to injury, with Roberto Lopes returning to the starting lineup. Three further changes saw Gary O’Neill, Richie Towell and Conan Noonan drop to the bench with Josh Honohan, Dylan Watts and Darragh Nugent coming into the side.

It was Rovers first visit to Richmond Park since they retained the league title there last November – that night, the champions walked away with a 2-0 triumph over the Saints, and they were hoping for a similar result this time around.

In front of 1,150 supporters in the sold-out away end, Darragh Nugent opened the scoring after just 3 minutes, following a bright start from the Hoops. Darragh Burns supplied a pin-point ball from the right flank into the path of Nugent who glanced his header into the far corner to score his first goal for the Club.

Bradley’s team continued to dominate following the breakthrough, with Graham Burke coming close to doubling the lead with a wicked strike that edged just wide of the right post.

The next attack was led by Josh Honohan down the left flank. The Corkman drove forward into the box and played a precise pass into Dylan Watts near the six-yard line – the midfielder’s attempt, however, was denied by the woodwork.

It seemed as though a second was only a matter of time for the Hoops, but the hosts sent a warning with two opportunities in quick succession

The first of these came through Brandon Kavanagh – he received the ball from Anto Breslin whilst he was making a run towards goal and despite being accompanied by Markus Poom, the Saints’ off-season signing managed to get a shot away, although Rovers goalkeeper Leon Pohls reacted quickly and did exceptionally well to extend his body and keep out Kavanagh’s shot with his right hand.

Another one of the hosts’ new recruits, Ruari Keating, followed up – he hit wide after getting on the end of a ball over the top from Kavanagh.

Down the other end, the ball landed right into the hands of Rogers after Aaron Greene’s goalbound effort lacked any power that was needed to trouble the 30-year-old.

Pohls produced another excellent save from a Luke Turner opportunity, the German shot-stopper stuck out his arm to prevent the headed ball from creeping into the right corner. Yet afterwards, the linesman raised his flag, deeming the chance to have been offside.

The home side were forced into an early change when Ruari Keating suffered an injury to his ankle – teenager Mason Melia was called off the bench to come on in place of the striker.

The Hoops would head into the break with a deserved advantage after an excellent first-half display – one that they hoped to build on throughout the rest of the game too.

However, following the restart, Pat’s were quick to equalise. Brandon Kavanagh sent a free-kick in from the right and Joe Redmond was there to meet it – directing a powerful header past Pohls to draw the sides level.

And just two minutes later, the Saints were ahead. The hosts intercepted a misplaced pass with Brandon Kavanagh able to square to Alex Nolan who made no mistake, firing past Pohls to edge the home side in front.

The Hoops looked to respond swiftly. Greene tried his luck from distance but Rogers managed to smother the ball into his arms – without much trouble.

Burns came close with a well-hit strike, but ultimately, the 21-year-old saw his effort go just beyond the post out on the right.

Rovers kept pushing as they searched for a way back into the game. In the end, it wasn’t to be, with the home side holding on to take all three points on the night.

Disappointment undoubtedly circulated amongst Bradley and his squad post-match. They will now regroup and look to get back to winning ways when they are next in action.

A clash with Sligo Rovers awaits the champions next Friday (April 12th), that fixture takes place at Tallaght Stadium, with kick-off set for 8pm.

St Patrick’s Athletic: Rogers, Turner, Keeley, Redmond ©, Breslin, Lennon, B Kavanagh (C Kavanagh 74’), Bolger, Leavy (Forrester 46’), Keating (Melia 41’), Nolan (McClelland 84’).

St Patrick’s Athletic unused substitutes: Pitaluga, Pettifer, Taylor, Noonan, Deans.

Shamrock Rovers: Pohls, Burns, Cleary, Lopes ©, Hoare, Honohan (Clarke 74’), Poom (O’Neill 86’), Watts (Towell 86’), Nugent (Noonan 86’), Burke, Greene.

Shamrock Rovers unused substitutes: Steacy, Leitis, Barrett, O’Sullivan, Dillon.

Referee: Damien MacGraith