Rodrigo Tosi struck at the death to earn Limerick a fully-deserved point as they extended their unbeaten league record to five games with a 1-1 draw against Shamrock Rovers at Tallaght Stadium on Friday night.
Rovers started on the front foot but it was Dean Clarke that brought the first save of the night when his cross was heading for the top corner before Tomer Chencinski got back to tip it behind.
The Hoops sent a warning shot shortly after that when good build-up play resulted in Graham Burke getting a sight of goal 18-yards out but he dragged wide. Soon, it was 1-0 as Burke’s excellent corner delivery was headed to the net by Roberto Lopes.
That advantage should have been doubled midway through the first half when Ronan Finn cut to near the by-line and put in a low cross which Gary Shaw somehow failed to finish off from close in.
Limerick almost conjured an equaliser past the hour-mark when Lee-J Lynch’s cross was challenged for by Tosi in the box and Chencinski had to get down smartly to push it behind, before Brandon Miele warmed the palms of Brendan Clarke.
Limerick threw everything they had at Rovers in the final quarter and they should have been rewarded four minutes from time when substitute John O’Flynn set up Tosi close in but he saw his shot blocked. But there was no denying the Brazilian on the 90 as he fired Chiedozie Ogbene’s low cross to the roof of the net.
Interim manager Willie Boland made one change to the team that lined out against Derry City in Donegal 72 hours earlier as Dean Clarke came in to replace Chris Mulhall.
Rovers were the first to threaten inside two minutes when Shaw got into the box where his pull-back was met by Burke but his shot was well blocked by Paul O’Conor, who would see his first half cut short through injury having only passed a late fitness test before kick-off.
Robbie Williams then saw a free-kick from a promising position 20-yards out saved by Chencinski, who came to the hosts’ rescue two minutes later when Clarke’s cross was looping towards the top corner but the ‘keeper got back to claw the ball behind.
Before the quarter-hour, a good passing move ended with Shaw laying the ball into the path of Burke who dragged his effort wide when well placed. But Burke turned creator for the lead goal on 18 minutes when his perfectly-floated corner was met by Lopes whose header was unstoppable.
It should have been 2-0 on 22 minutes when Finn supplied a low cross for Shaw but from inside the six-yard box the striker inexplicably fired off target. At the other end, Chencinski again gathered a Williams set-piece.
From thereon, there was little noteworthy in the first half, with Limerick coming more into it towards the end, Tosi failing to generate the necessary power in Ogbene’s cross before substitute Bastien Héry’s shot proved comfortable for the ‘keeper.
After the break, there was little to report in the opening exchanges. On 64 minutes, the Shannonsiders were almost on level terms when Lynch’s cross was met by a combination of Lopes and Tosi, with the Hoops ‘keeper getting down smartly to push it behind.
Moments later, his opposite number Clarke produced a good save to deny Miele’s low drive. On 70 minutes, captain Shane Duggan attempted an ambitious effort from distance which Chencinski palmed behind, and it was from there that Limerick began to dominate.
They really pressed the home defence in the final 20 minutes in search of an equaliser. And they should have found it on 86 minutes when O’Flynn set up Tosi but the Brazilian could not finish. He would not be denied, though, as at the death he got on the end of Ogbene’s cross at the back post to earn Limerick a well-deserved draw.
Shamrock Rovers: Tomer Chencinski, Simon Madden, Roberto Lopes, Dave Webster, Luke Byrne, Darren Meenan (Sam Bone 59), Ronan Finn ©, David McAllister (Paul Corry 73), Brandon Miele (James Doona 67), Graham Burke. Gary Shaw. Goal: R Lopes (18). Booked: B Miele (37), S Bone (67). Unused Subs: Kevin Horgan (GK), Shane Hanney, Seán Boyd, Aaron Dobbs.
Limerick: Brendan Clarke, Shaun Kelly, Tony Whitehead, Robbie Williams, Tommy Robson, Dean Clarke (John O’Flynn 82), Paul O’Conor (Bastien Héry 27), Shane Duggan ©, Lee-J Lynch, Chiedozie Ogbene, Rodrigo Tosi (Tom Walsh 90+3). Goal: R Tosi (90). Booked: C Ogbene (77), B Clarke (80). Unused Subs: Freddy Hall (GK), Dave O’Connor, Chris Mulhall, Tobias Kainz.
Referee: Derek Tomney (Dublin). Attendance: 2,570.
Report Date: Friday 28 April 2017
Images thanks to Conor Wyse.