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Irish Mirror
Irish Mirror
Mark McCadden

Drogheda 1-1 Shamrock Rovers - Ryan Brennan salvages late draw for resilient Drogs

TWO GAMES in and Shamrock Rovers have picked up more red cards than points.

That’s the reality facing the four-in-a-row chasing side as they pick up the pieces this morning from another disappointing draw.

Each of Stephen Bradley’s three first-choice centre-halves have been sent off this season - with Lee Grace and Dan Cleary joining Roberto Lopes, who was dismissed last weekend in Sligo.

READ MORE: Bohemians 2-1 Dundalk - Jordan Flores and Declan McDaid goals keep Bohs on top

And once again Rovers’ disciplinary woes were followed by the late concession of an equaliser.

Just as was the case in the Showgrounds, they went ahead through Graham Burke.

Seven days ago they surrendered their lead in injury-time after being reduced to 10 men.

This time around, Ryan Brennan equalised in the closing moments of the 90 - and Drogheda were desperately unlucky not to take all three points in the six minutes of added time.

Grace can count himself unlucky with his red card. Booked late in the first-half, he received his marching orders with 18 minutes remaining for a foul on Dylan Grimes.

It seemed, however, that the defender lost his footing as he approached the Drogheda man.

Cleary’s red card on 80 minutes - moments after he was booked for time-wasting - looked more clear-cut.

Still incensed at his first yellow, he lunged at Ryan Brennan and referee Sean Grant produced a second, and then a red.

And then came Drogheda’s advance, Brennan’s equaliser and a game attempt to win the match.

The Boynesiders looked down and out at one stage.

Rovers started the second-half with a similar intensity to the start of the first - and were rewarded with the opening goal on 53 minutes.

But not before Burke twisted and turned inside the area and fired off a shot that smacked off the foot of the far post.

And not before Johnny Kenny forced a decent stop out of goalkeeper Colin McCabe, and then a defensive block moments later.

Ultimately, the goal was a gift - a flap by ‘keeper McCabe at Jack Byrnes corner that caught Freddie Draper by surprise at the far post.

He could do little other than to head the ball back across goal towards Burke, who stroked the ball into the unguarded net from a couple of yards out.

With last weekend’s failure to take all three points in Sligo still fresh in their minds, Rovers pushed forward for a second - and they should have wrapped things up.

Neil Farrugia was off-target, while defender Grace clipped the top of the bar on 70 minutes after Byrne’s free kick landed at his feet.

Grace wasn’t on the pitch for much longer, as the game turned on its head with his red card - and Dayle Rooney smashed his free-kick off the foot of the post.

Burke’s frustration was clear for all to see as he was sacrificed in the wake of the sending off - and he was booked from the bench as he protested a decision.

The first-half was far less eventful, although the Hoops were quick out of the blocks, with Byrne firing high over the bar after 12 seconds and Markus Poom forcing a save from McCabe less than a minute later.

Kenny sprinted into the area in the 10th minute, but with the angle narrowing with each stride he failed to squeeze the ball past McCabe, who saved with his legs.

Some determined shadowing of the on-loan Celtic man by Ben Curtis forced Kenny to delay his shot - and the Drogheda defender paid the price for his stubborn defending.

He picked up an injury in his pursuit of Kenny and was forced off, with Emmanuel Adegboyega replacing him in time for one of several Rovers first-half corners that came to nothing.

Adegboyega was involved in a talking point in the closing moments - shortly after Brennan’s equaliser.

Brennan, unmarked on the right-hand side of the area, drilled the ball across goal and inside the far post to level things up.

Substitute Warren Davis was denied an injury-time winner by a Sean Gannon block, while Keeley headed at Mannus from the corner.

Gannon then somehow diverted the ball away from Dylan Grimes on the goal-line, while Adegboyega had a penalty shout waved away when he appeared to have had his legs clipped by Mannus.

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