Mandroiu finish edges Rovers past Dundalk
DANNY Mandroiu struck the all-important goal at Tallaght Stadium last night to give defending champions Shamrock Rovers a 1-0 win over Dundalk in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division.
In front of a crowd of 5,532, Mandroiu fired home in the 66th minute to break the stubborn resistance offered up by their hard-working opponents.
This victory was the Hoops’ fourth on the bounce in the top-flight and now puts them within a point of table-toppers Derry City.
The hosts were given an early scare in this game as Dundalk attacker Daniel Kelly headed against the crossbar off Keith Ward’s enticing set-piece delivery in the fourth minute.
While this was a let-off for Rovers, they largely dominated the remainder of the opening period.
Dundalk netminder Nathan Shepperd was at full stretch to deny Sean Hoare on 11 minutes before Sean Gannon and Dylan Watts also went close in quick succession.
Mandroiu was one of seven Rovers players to be retained from their 1-0 defeat of St Patrick’s Athletic at the same venue three days earlier and he was marginally off-target with a brace of efforts just shy of the half-hour mark.
It was a relatively quiet half overall for Alan Mannus, but the veteran Hoops custodian was out quickly to turn away another Kelly opportunity with his feet on 37 minutes.
Although the deadlock remained unbroken at the interval, there was a sense that it wasn’t going to stay this way for the full 90 minutes.
Barry Cotter, Andy Lyons and Aidomo Emakhu were all introduced off the bench just past the hour, but it was two starting players who ultimately carved Dundalk open.
After racing away from Knocklyon native Brian Gartland off Jack Byrne’s precise through ball, the raiding Mandroiu made no mistake with a cool finish past the helpless Shepperd.
Emakhu and Mandroiu had opportunities to extend the Hoops’ lead, but with Dundalk losing Gartland to a second yellow card in the closing moments, they emerged with a deserved triumph in the end.