Birmingham City comfortably defeated League of Ireland Premier Division title contenders Shamrock Rovers, but a fine evening's entertainment was marred by injuries to Hoops keeper Barry Murphy and Blues striker Matt Green. The new signing from Mansfield Town scored Birmingham's fouth after first-half goals from Lee Novak, Nikola Zigic, and Callum Reilly.
There was a definite air of excitement as Trevor Croly's men faced their Championship opponents on a warm evening at Tallaght stadium. The match started slowly as a result of some poor passing by both sides, but the visitors had the first chance at goal within three minutes as Chris Burke played the ball in from a corner, but it came to nothing.
Disaster struck the Hoops on 11 minutes as a dangerous slide tackle saw Lee Novak go straight into goalkeeper Barry Murphy. Murphy went down immediately and seemed to be in serious pain as the Rovers doctor and ambulance crew rushed onto the pitch, resulting in play being stopped for five minutes. The keeper was eventually carried off in a stretcher to applause from the Rovers supporters and replaced by Richard Brush.
Novak was very lucky to be not shown a card for the incident and went on to score for Birmingham just two minutes later. In the 21st minute, Rovers striker Eamon Zayed missed a great chance to score on his debut as his header drifted harmlessly wide.
A fantastic strike from Nikola Zigic made it two for the visitors, scoring with the help of the post, leaving Brush with no chance. The hosts found it difficult to move up the field or hold onto the ball, and it wasn't long before Callum Reilly scored the third goal just before half-time.
The half finished with a very comfortable lead for Birmingham who were clearly dominating the match, and the home side struggling to find their feet.
The first few minutes of the second-half saw the Hoops on top. Substitute Sean O'Connor almost beat Darren Randolph from a free kick who remained rooted to the spot, calling the new Birmingham City goalkeeper into action for the first time.
However, the Blues contined to dominate and made it four when the ball sailed into the back of the Rovers net from a Matt Green strike. The forward had been on the pitch just three minutes after coming on for Lee Novak, who was booed off the field by the home fans.
Green's moments of jubilation ended quickly as he collapsed in the Rovers penalty area after fouling Jason McGuiness. The striker had to be hooked up to an oxygen supply and brought off by stretcher. Substitute goalkeeper Colin Doyle came on his place, and almost scored an unlikely goal late on, only to see his effort cleared off the line by Ken Oman,
Overall it was a disappointing night for the Hoops, who will be hoping for a much improved performance on Friday evening against Derry City. Birmingham City play Swindon Town on Wednesday, July 17 in their next pre-season friendly.