Football

Brian Kerr Questions Shamrock Rovers Preparation After Loss In Estonia

Brian Kerr Questions Shamrock Rovers Preparation After Loss In Estonia

Shamrock Rovers side are in danger of having their Europa Conference League campaign ended before the group stages after a 4-2 loss to Flora Tallinn this evening.

In an exciting game, some questionable defending proved to be their undoing.

It was a disastrous start for Stephen Bradley's side, finding themselves 2-0 inside the opening half an hour.

Both goals could likely have been prevented, with Joey O'Brien making a couple of key errors on each strike.

However, Rovers responded well over the remainder of the opening period. Their good work finally paid off just before the interval, with Graham Burke doing well to tuck this effort away from the edge of the box.

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That was enough to see them through to halftime.

The League of Ireland champions rode their luck at times in the second half, with Alan Mannus pulling off a fantastic save to stop a certain goal in a one-on-one situation.

However, Mannus would not cover himself in glory for the Estonian side's third goal.

He fumbled what looked to be a reasonably straightforward shot, allowing Rauno Sappinen to bundle home the rebound.

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Liam Scales got them right back into the tie five minutes before the end of the game.

The left back, who is likely to leave the club in the coming days, produced a beautiful looping header from a Graham Burke cross to get his side back within touching distance.

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However, they couldn't hold out. It was another poor goal to concede, with Flora set to take a 4-2 lead to Dublin.

That goal put a much harsher complexion on the scoreline ahead of the return leg in Tallaght, with Rovers now needing a major turnaround in order to advance to the group stages.

Speaking on Virgin Media after the game, Brian Kerr felt that Rovers looked underprepared for this game.

He believed the evidence of this came in the display of opposition player Konstantin Vassiljev, who made a telling impact and played a part in a number of the Florin goals.

The 37-year old Estonian has won 128 caps for his country, with Kerr saying the influence he was allowed to have on proceedings perhaps an indication that the Irish side were not well enough prepared for this tie.

They played with a back three, wingbacks and a goalkeeper tonight. I think Ronan Finn, out of that six, is the only one that will be happy with his performance.

They have a lot to do and they can do it. They created enough opportunities and there are enough weaknesses in the Flora that suggests Rovers can score goals in the second leg in Tallaght...

They've got to win by three goals or win by two goals and on penalties. That's a big challenge considering the amount of chances they coughed up tonight...

If they can get an early first goal then great, but that doesn't win the game. You've still got to stop the opposition.

It almost looked like they didn't know about [Konstantin] Vassiljev and how clever he is at picking up little spaces behind the midfield players.

They played 4-4-1-1 and he always seemed to be in a position where he had time to pick out a pass...

I certainly felt that about Vassiljev given his history in the game, his experience, and his great goalscoring record from that position behind the centre forward.

I mentioned a lack of respect, and I meant that (Rovers) had to understand that (Florin) had gotten to this stage based on achievement this year.

Rovers will require a much better performance next week if they are to avoid seeing their European campaign cut short.

SEE ALSO: With International Return On The Horizon, Ireland's Young Blood Is Coming To The Fore

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Gary Connaughton

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