Burke rounds off mem­o­rable week by res­cu­ing Rovers

The Irish Times - Sports Weekend - - SOCCER -

Sham­rock Rovers striker Gra­ham Burke com­pleted a mem­o­rable week by res­cu­ing a point for his side against Water­ford FC at the Tal­laght Sta­dium last night.

On the back of his im­pres­sive do­mes­tic form, the for­mer Notts County star was se­lected in the Repub­lic of Ire­land pre­lim­i­nary squad for their up­com­ing in­ter­na­tional games on Thurs­day.

Though the Blues looked set to in­crease the pres­sure on Cork City and Dun­dalk at the top of the ta­ble, Burke can­celled out Gavin Holo­han’s open­ing half strike to en­sure a shar­ing of the spoils.

In ad­di­tion to Ally Gilchrist re­plac­ing the sus­pended Joey O’Brien, goal­keeper Tomer Chencin­ski and striker Gary Shaw were drafted into the Rovers line-up in the wake of last week’s 2-0 re­ver­sal to St Pa­trick’s Ath­letic.

While there were whole­sale changes from the Water­ford team that were knocked out of the EA Sports Cup by Sligo Rovers, San­der Puri and Derek Daly were the only play­ers not to start in the 2-1 league suc­cess over Dun­dalk eight days ago.

Al­though they had their hands full with raid­ing Hoops wing-backs Ethan Boyle and Sean Ka­vanagh, it was the visi­tors who ini­tially posed the greater threat. Af­ter Bastien Hery’s ef­fort cleared the cross­bar, Is­mahil Ak­i­nade and Holo­han both forced close-range saves from Chencin­ski.

At the op­po­site end, Boyle headed wide off a the left-wing. Just when a score­less first half ap­peared on the cards, Water­ford broke the dead­lock in spec­tac­u­lar fash­ion on 38 min­utes.

From all of 25 yards, Holo­han dis­patched a pow­er­ful swerv­ing shot be­yond the reach of the stranded Chencin­ski – pro­vid­ing Water­ford with a one-goal in­ter­val cush­ion.

With the prospect of another morale-sap­ping de­feat loom­ing large, Rovers boss Stephen Bradley in­tro­duced Dan Carr and Bran­don Miele on the re­sump­tion. This led to a tac­ti­cal re-shuf­fle for the hosts, but a makeshift Water­ford back-four were largely un­trou­bled in the third-quar­ter.

They breathed a sigh of re­lief when Miele volleyed ag­o­nis­ingly past the post, how­ever, and this acted as a sign of things to come from Rovers. Fol­low­ing Carr’s inch-per­fect cross on the left-wing in the 74th-minute, Burke was on hand to head into an empty net.

This kept Water­ford on high alert for the re­main­der of the con­test, but Alan Reynolds’ men held off a late surge by the hosts to re­main just three points adrift of Cork in third place.

PHO­TO­GRAPH: BRYAN KEANE/INPHO

Water­ford’s Stan­ley Ab­o­rah comes un­der pres­sure from Sham­rock Rovers’ Ro­nan Finn at Tal­laght Sta­dium last night.

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