Macdara Ferris reports from Tallaght Stadium
Shamrock Rovers concluded their pre-season friendly programme with a solid 2-0 win over Brentford’s B team in Tallaght Stadium on Friday evening.
The goals came from a Dylan Watts penalty and a second half finish from 19-year-old striker Dean Dillon.
Rovers dominated the visitors from London with the Brentford goalkeeper Ellery Balcombe forced to pull off a string of saves as the Hoops peppered his goal from distance – particularly in the first 45 minutes.
The Hoops hit the target from outside the box in the opening half no fewer than three times through Jack Byrne and with a powerful Aaron Greene header also going close, but they couldn’t breach Balcombe’s goal in the opening period of the half.
Stephen Bradley deployed his captain Ronan Finn in an advanced role with Dylan Watts playing deeper alongside Sam Bone in front of the Hoops back four.
Byrne was very impressive for Rovers as he pulled the strings in midfield, dropping into pockets of space to receive the ball and showing great distribution with his passing.
Watts also went close with a shot from outside the penalty area but the ball dropped just by Balcombe’s left hand post on 25 minutes.
At the other end, the closest the visitors came was when they broke at pace, with full-back Cole Dasilva hitting the Hoops side netting with Mannus watching on.
Aaron Greene led the line for the Hoops, and his physicality and pace caused the Bees difficulty.
When Greene linked up with Finn just before the half hour mark, a loose Brentford boot brought Finn to the floor and a penalty Watts’ way. He duly dispatched the spot kick which gave the Hoops the half time lead.
Bradley made four changes at the break, including bringing on Austrian striker Orhan Vojic, who is likely to sign for the start of the league campaign.
Another five changes came after the hour mark including the introduction of goalkeeper Leon Pohls.
The German ‘keeper will be Alan Mannus’ understudy with Gavin Bazunu gone to Manchester City and Kevin Horgan leaving the club and expected to return to his former home at Galway United.
The Hoops doubled their lead through Dean Dillon on 68 minutes. He got on the end of a Dan Carr centre to side foot home.
Byrne, the one Rovers player to be given 90 minutes, was the creator as he bisected the Brentford back four brilliantly to give Carr the space to cross for Dillon to score.
Jarvis Edobar did hit the base of the Rovers post with a quarter of an hour to go but the visitors failed to really pressurise the Hoops in any meaningful manner.
Edobar put James Furlong's centre behind for a corner late on and the resulting Byrne set piece that came to Dan Carr caused Brentford difficulties. Pico Lopes put the ball in the net but it was ruled out for offside.
When the sides met for a friendly last February the Bees scored twice late on for a 2-1 win but this time around there was to be no late pre-season drama as Rovers ran out comfortable 2-0 winners.
Up next for Rovers is a trip to Waterford for next Friday’s opening league fixture.
Shamrock Rovers: Alan Mannus (Leon Pohls 61); Ethan Boyle (James Furlong 61), Roberto Lopes, Lee Grace (Alex Dunne 61), Sean Kavanagh (Trevor Clarke 61); Dylan Watts (Aaron McEneff h/t), Sam Bone (Greg Bolger h/t); Joel Coustrain (Dan Carr h/t), Ronan Finn © (Dean Dillion 61), Jack Byrne; Aaron Greene (Orhan Vojic h/t).
Subs not used: None.
Brentford B: Ellery Balcombe; Cole Dasilva, Nikolaj Kirk, Jarvis Edobar, Theo Archibald; Henrik Johansso, Jayden Onen, Jonny Mitchell (Jan Zamburek h/t), Jaden Brissett (Matej Majka 66), Kolbeinn Finnsson, Joe Hardy.
Subs not used: Simon Andersson, Gustav Mogensen, Fredrik Hammar.
Bookings: Jarvis Edobar (80).
Referee: Derek Tomney.
Attendance: 500 (estimate).
Extratime.ie Player of the Match: Jack Byrne (Shamrock Rovers).