Report: Ryan McMullen

Rovers kicked off their weekend double header of fixtures in style after producing a stunning second half display to secure victory in Derry.

Stephen Bradley made one change to his team ahead of the game up North – Richie Towell returned to the starting 11 to replace Darragh Nugent in midfield.

As well as that switch, Rory Gaffney started on the bench – featuring in the matchday squad for the first time since he picked up a knock away at Galway United last month.

In the early stages, there were multiple chances at both ends. The first saw German goalkeeper Leon Pohls get down to his left to palm away a Michael Duffy effort from the edge of the box to deny the hosts a breakthrough.

Down the other end, Gary O’Neil tested Derry ‘keeper Brian Maher with an effort from range, but the 23-year-old gathered comfortably.

Rovers came close to finding an opener when Aaron Greene found himself one-on-one with Maher after receiving the ball from Dylan Watts. The Derry ‘keeper made a block with his foot from Greene’s shot on target, with Greene squaring the rebound to Towell who’s goalbound effort was cleared off the line by Ben Doherty. A huge let off for the hosts.

Moment later Graham Burke then followed up by trying his luck from long-range – however his effort went well wide and above the height of the crossbar.

As the break approached, Danny Mullen let fly from distance, with the Hoops happy to see the Scot’s curling effort smack back out off the post.

Both teams would head into the half time break scoreless.

Following the restart, Pohls made an excellent save to deny Ben Doherty as the wing back beared down on goal, sticking out a left foot to maintain a clean sheet.

It wasn’t long after this that the deadlock was broken. Dylan Watts played a defence splitting pace into the path of Greene who timed his run perfectly to slot past Maher to give Rovers the lead.

On the hour mark, Rovers were forced into making their first change, O’Neill who had suffered a knock in the first half, was replaced by Trevor Clarke in a move that saw Markus Poom revert to midfield.

Shortly after, Greene netted his and our second of the night. Again it was Watts with the assist, providing a perfectly weighted ball into the path of the in-form striker, who lobbed the on-rushing Maher to double our lead.

Rovers were in full control, with Watts dictating all the play in the middle of the park/

The Hoops’ night was capped off when Towell found their third. Hoops pressure forced Daniel Kelly to give the ball away to Greene, who’s pass inside found Burke who unselfishly teed up Towell to slot home his first of the campaign to seal the win.

The home side would register a consolation in the dying stages, with substitute Pat Hoban converting a Daniel Kelly cross from the right wing past Pohls, but it was too little too late, as the visitors saw out the remaining minutes to secure a big three points on the road.

The Hoops will look to continue their momentum in the second game of a double header of fixtures this weekend, with a trip to Drumcondra awaiting Stephen Bradleu’s men on Monday night. Kick off at Tolka Park is set for 7:45pm.

Derry City: Maher, Boyce, McEleney (Kelly 65’), Connolly, McJannet ©, Doherty, McMullan, O’Reilly, Patching, Mullen, Duffy (Hoban 65’).

Derry City unused substitutes: Ryan, Coll, Harkin, Todd, McGinty, Patton, Barr.

Shamrock Rovers: Pohls, Burns (Nugent 72’), Cleary (Barrett 81’), Lopes ©, Honohan, Poom, O’Neill (Clarke 60’), Towell, Watts, Burke (Kenny 72’), Greene (Gaffney 72’).

Shamrock Rovers unused substitutes: Steacy, Leitis, Kavanagh, Noonan.

Referee: Paul McLaughlin