Shelbourne 1 - 3 Sligo RoversFri, Aug 17 2012
Sligo Rovers made sure they took advantage of Drogheda United's slip-up with a convincing 3-1 win over Shelbourne in Tolka Park on Friday night.
Jason McGuinness, Gavin Peers and Mark Quigley got the precious goals for the Bit o'Red, with Paddy Kavanagh's late goal little more than a consolation for Shels.
Rovers started as they meant to go on, with McGuinness heading them into an early lead after just two minutes. A Ross Gaynor free kick bounced high before it forced Chris Bennion to push it over his bar.
From the resulting corner Jason McGuinness powered a header into the bottom left corner of the net, past Bennion's outstretched palm.
Both sides took their turns to attack afterwards, with the Reds never really looking like equalising. For the second goal, Gavin Peers connected with another well-delivered Ross Gaynor free inside the Shels box to poke the ball past Bennion.
Eager to claw their way back into the match, Shelbourne attempted attacks of their own straight after the goal, but it was Rovers who came closest to scoring again on 21 minutes.
A prone Pascal Millien received the ball in the home side's box, with only a chested goal line intervention from Andy Boyle preventing a spectacular goal.
More slack Shelbourne defending nearly let Seamus Conneely score a third goal, with the ex-Galway United man heading over from an unmarked position in front of goal on 32 minutes.
Three minutes later the Bit o'Red had yet another golden opportunity to extend their lead, with yet another goal line intervention preventing it. This time Conneely's shot from just outside the box after a lovely Rovers passing move was cleared away by Brian Shortall.
Several Sligo players felt that the defender had handled the ball, with Conneely booked for his part in the protests. Just before half time Sean Byrne had the best Shels chance of the half, but his charge into the Bit o'Red box yielded nothing with Gary Rogers more than equal to his shot.
It was more of the same as the visitors dominated the match after the break, with a loose passing and marking combining to stop Shels from creating any chances. On more than one occasion they were forced into last-ditch clearances, with Sligo's fast-paced passing making life difficult for the Reds.
Conneely and David Cawley both had clear chances around the hour mark, with Bennion saving superbly to deny Cawley. Alan Mathews's side began to press further up afterwards, but were nearly caught out by a counter-attacking Bit o'Red on 69 minutes.
Millien, Boco and Mark Quigley broke away after a Shelbourne corner. Quigley set Boco away on the left, and the Benin international found Millien on his own in front of goal. With only Bennion between him and a goal, the Haitian blasted the ball high and wide.
After threatening so much from open play, the third Rovers goal came from a penalty. Debutant Liam Buchanan was brought down in the box by Brian Shortall after 76 minutes. Bennion dived the right way, but Quigley's penalty slotted comfortably under him for 3-0.
Shels closed the match out well, with Paddy Kavanagh's 82nd minute goal ensured a lively end to the game. The substitute looked lively after coming on and took the goal well- striking it cleanly past Rogers from just inside the box.
To their credit, the Reds pushed hard in the last five minutes. Philly Hughes forced a good save out of Rogers a minute into added time, but ultimately Sligo Rovers ran out 3-1 winners in what could prove to be a crucial night in the title race.
Shelbourne: Chris Bennion; Gareth Matthews, Andy Boyle, Brian Shortall, Lorcan Fitzgerald; Kevin Dawson, Glen Cronin, Stephen Hurley (Philip Gorman 55), Sean Byrne (Barry Clancy 70); David Cassidy (Paddy Kavanagh 78); Philip Hughes.
Subs Not Used: Dean Delany, Ian Ryan, Paul Byrne.
Yellow Cards: None.
Sligo Rovers: Gary Rogers; Alan Keane, Gavin Peers, Jason McGuinness, Ross Gaynor; Romauld Boco, Danny Ventre (Liam Buchanan 70), David Cawley, Seamus Conneely (Lee Lynch 79); Pascal Millien, Mark Quigley.
Subs Not Used: Richard Brush, Ryan Connolly, Jeff Henderson, Rafael Cretaro, Joseph Ndo.
Yellow Cards: Conneely (36), Ventre (37), Gaynor (82), Peers (84).
Referee: Paul Tuite.
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: David Cawley (Sligo Rovers).
Niall Farrell is our correspondent at Tolka Park, covering the goings-on at Shelbourne. You can visit Niall's website for further information and contact details- niallf.net.