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Sligo Rovers moved six points clear at the top of the Airtricity Premier Division following a 3-0 victory over nine man Shamrock Rovers at The Showgrounds on Saturday.
Two goals from Danny North and a screamer from David Cawley gave Sligo all three points meaning that they have finished the first round of games unbeaten.
Ian Baraclough made just one change to the side that defeated Drogheda United 3-1 at Hunky Dorys Park last weekend. Alan Keane returned from injury and Raffaele Cretaro dropped to the bench. There were three changes to the Shamrock Rovers side that drew 2-2 with UCD. Reyaad Pieterse came in to the side in place of the on loan Tottenham Hotspur ‘keeper Oscar Jansson. Kerrea Gilbert and Killian Brennan were named in the starting eleven as Conor McCormack and Billy Dennehy started on the bench.
Stephen Kenny’s men were the first to threaten and who else would it be only top scorer Gary Twigg with the chances. He slotted the ball in behind the Sligo defence but he hit it straight at Gary Rogers in goal. Former Sligo man Gary McCabe swung a free-kick in for Twigg soon after, but he sent his headed effort over the bar.
The bit o’ red soon took over and the hoops found themselves under pressure. Jason McGuinness’ ball in to Romauld Boco in the box but the Benin man failed to connect properly.
Former Dundalk striker Mark Quigley could have given the league leaders the lead when he spotted Reyaard Pieterse off his line and his long range effort had beaten the South African but just smacked off the crossbar. The man from Grimsby Danny North is always a threat and he found himself with a fantastic opportunity to put the North-Westerners ahead when Gavin Peers sent the ball forward for the former St. Patrick’s Athletic striker. North did well to take the ball around Pierterse but found himself in a difficult angle and he could only shoot wide.
The bit o’ red soon took the game by the scruff of the neck and were in the lead on 30 minutes. Mark Quigley’s surge forward was ended by a tackle from Stephen Rice but that interception put the ball in the path of North, who had no problem slotting home past Reyaad Pieterse, who should have done better. It was just seven minutes later when Pieterse was left red-faced again. David Cawley, former Ipswich youngster, took the ball from well outside the box, avoided a tackle and absolutely let rip to give the home side a two-nil lead.
The hoops did emerge from the dressing room at half-time with a lot more urgency, but things soon got worse for the visitors as the former bit o’ red man Chris Turner was sent for an early shower on 50 minutes. Turner lashed out on Alan Keane after a bad tackle despite theatrics from Alan Keane, referee Tom Connolly flashed the red card.
The Tallaght men hardly threatened at all and Gary McCabe was their best player on the day. He swung a long range effort at Gary Rogers, which the ‘keeper fumbled but it made little difference as there was no-one around to capitalise. Danny North was causing the hoops’ defence all sorts of problems and he made their day even worse on 77 minutes. The league’s top scorer slotted in past Pieterse in goal, to continue the ‘keeper’s nightmare.
Billy Dennehy had an opportunity on goal with a good strong effort but he hit it straight at Gary Rogers. They say it gets worse before it gets better, and it certainly got worse for the visitors. A harsh second yellow for Graham Gartland following a challenge on Raff Cretaro meant he had to join Chris Turner in the dressing room early. After that, it was game, set and match for the bit o’ red.
It was a pretty comprehensive win for the league leaders and the visitors posed no threat in front of goal.
Sligo Rovers: Gary Rogers; Alan Keane, Jason McGuinness, Gavin Peers, Iarfhlaith Davoren; Romauld Boco (John Dillon, 76), Danny Ventre, David Cawley (Lee Lynch, 61), Ross Gaynor; Mark Quigley (Raffaele Cretaro, 81), Danny North.
Subs not used: Richard Brush, Martin Owens, Pascal Millien, Jake Dykes.
Bookings: Peers (21), Cawley (33), Ventre (85).
Shamrock Rovers: Reyaad Pieterse; Kerrea Gilbert, Craig Sives (Colin Hawkins, 75), Graham Gartland, Conor Powell (Billy Dennehy, 63); Gary McCabe, Stephen Rice, Chris Turner; Daryl Kavanagh (Aaron Greene, 67), Killian Brennan; Gary Twigg.
Subs not used: Oscar Jansson, Gary O’Neill, Stephen O’Donnell, Conor McCormack.
Bookings: Gartland (16), Kavanagh (45), Twigg (57), McCabe (65).
Sendings Off: Turner (50), Gartland (85).
Referee: Tom Connolly.
extratime.ie Man of the Match: Danny Ventre.