Shamrock Rovers: 0
Odds BK: 2
Stephen Doyle at Tallaght Stadium
The man whom Pat Fenlon warned his players about in their pre-match preparation, Canadian international striker Olivier Occean, hit a brace in Tallaght tonight to leave Shamrock Rovers all at sea in this Europa League tie.
The first-half was played in atrocious conditions with the wind and rain giving the night a very depressing feel that would eventually be reflected on the pitch for the home team and fans.
Rovers put in a very good first-half defensive effort that stifled an Odds BK team who pressed high but were unable to give Rovers’ keeper Craig Hyland anything to worry about.
The closest the visitors came to a goal chance was in the 22nd minute when right-back Espen Rudd broke into the box and fired a lethal cross from the bye-line.
Skipper Conor Kenna got a block on the ball to send it airborne and then safely into the hands of Hyland.
At the other end Gary McCabe’s 25-yard volley was powerful and directly at the goalkeeper who actually did very well to hold on to the ball which was like a bar of soap.
McCabe took an excellent free-kick just after the half-hour mark from just inside the half which was headed on by Ryan Brennan to Mikey Drennan and when he let it run on, Kieran Marty Waters hit it on the half volley just off target.
Waters teed Drennan up just before the break but the young striker was just wide of the mark.
Rovers looked up for it after the restart and pushed the Norwegians back, causing their defence some problems but were just lacking that bit of magic to break the deadlock.
Unfortunately for Fenlon’s men, it was a bad refereeing decision that would eventually give Odds BK the chance to get the scoreboard ticking.
Fredrik Nordkvelle, who had been booked in the first-half, looked to have taken a dive in a 50/50 tussle with Conor Kenna and straight away the referee pointed to the spot after which Occean made no mistake in firing it home.
It could have been all square shortly after the opener when powerful angled drive by Drennan from 20 yards squirmed under the keeper who managed to scurry back to stop the ball as it kissed the whitewash.
If it was the referee that had Fenlon fuming for the first goal, it would be his own team’s set-piece defending that would have him tearing his hair out after the second.
Just 14 minutes later, Chukwuma Akabueze’s corner was sent right into the middle of the box were David Webster was beaten to the ball by Occean whose header crashed off the underside of the bar and in.
The introduction of Hoops midfielder Brandon Miele livened things up, but just slightly, and his dangerous cross whipped in after 75 minutes was begging for a team mate to direct it in but nobody took a punt on it.
The Dubliners travel to Norway for the return leg next week knowing that only a miracle will see them score the three unanswered goals needed to win this tie.
Shamrock Rovers: Hyland, Madden, Kenna, Webster, Byrne, Cregg, McCabe, G.Brennan (North 80), R.Brennan (C.Kavanagh 86), Waters (Miele 68), Drennan. Substitutes: Murphy, O’Connor, Blanchard, D.Kavanagh.
Odds Ballklubb: Lovseth Rossbach, Rudd, Gashi (Oldrup Jensen 46), Jorgen Halvorsen, Samuelsen, Occean (Bergan 85), Nordkvelle, Jonassen, Hagen (C), Kristian Eriksen, Akabueze (Storbaek 82). Substitutes: Grogaard, Berg, Zekhnini, Myhra.