Sligo Rovers stormed through to the quarter-finals of the EA Sports Cup after a 4-0 victory over Mervue United on Monday night.
Anthony Elding gave the home side the lead in the first-half and that was added to in the second-half by Evan McMillan and Danny Ventre before the former Grimsby man grabbed his second of the night.
Ian Baraclough made four changes to his side that drew 0-0 with Bray Wanderers in the league over a week ago. Gavin Peers and David Cawley were ruled out through suspension, and Iarfhlaith Davoren and Pascal Millien dropped to the bench with Jeff Henderson, Danny Ventre, Anthony Elding and Raffaele Cretaro starting.
Johnny Glynn was forced to make a number of changes, with just five players from the weekend’s defeat to Finn Harps starting. Mike Elwood, Marc Ludden, Jason Molloy and Gary Shanahan all missed out. Noel Varley and Ryan Manning were on the bench. Joe Woods, Barry O’Mahony, Gary Curran, Brendan Lavelle, Alex Lee and Ross Kenny took the places of those who were missing.
It was a tame start to the game with Rovers having the best of the early possession. The Bit O’Red did apply pressure on the visitors early on but didn’t necessarily need to be at the top of their game to test Johnny Glynn’s men.
The first real chance for Ian Baraclough’s team came from a Raffaele Cretaro cross which Anthony Elding headed on, but under pressure from the Mervue defence his header was too high. On 18 minutes, The Showgrounds saw the first real piece of excitement. Former Rovers player Barry O’Mahony was given his marching orders after he handled the ball to keep it from crossing the goal-line. There were no protests and a penalty was awarded.
The big man Anthony Elding stepped up and scored from the penalty spot despite Conor Gleeson getting a touch on the ball. The Galway side’s best opportunity came from a ball down the right from Alex lee which Brendan Lavelle took and shot at goal, but Gary Rogers was on hand to make his first save of the game.
Sligo Rovers came close to extending their lead just four minutes into the second half. Ross Gaynor’s corner was punched away by Conor Gleeson, but only as far as Joseph Ndo. The midfielder was in a good position to shoot, and his effort bounced off Noel Varley and eventually went out for a corner.
Rovers came close again shortly after. Another corner from Ross Gaynor came to Lee Lynch and shot was pushed out for Jeff Henderson but his effort went out for another corner.
The much sought after second goal eventually arrived for Sligo on the hour mark. Joseph Ndo’s ball from the left was headed on by Evan McMillan and Conor Gleeson couldn’t get to it in time. Anthony Elding came close once again when Tubbercurry man Raffaele Cretaro put in a brilliant ball for him but he couldn’t get any sort of a connection on it.
The Airtricity Premier Division champions extended their lead even further on the 69th minute. Alan Keane’s low cross came to the Liverpudilian as he looked to have got it across the line but it someone stayed out and he managed to force it across the line eventually to give Rovers their third of the evening.
Substitute Kieran Djilali came agonisingly close on the 84th minute after he collected Aaron Greene’s cross and from a very difficult angle he smacked the near post. The visitors had the metalwork to thank yet again just minutes later when Aaron Greene’s strong effort smacked the crossbar, stopping the score-line from growing.
Alas, the score-line did extend just seconds from the finish. Anthony Elding collected the ball on the edge of the box and hit a spectacular effort at goal, which Conor Gleeson couldn’t keep out. Johnny Glynn’s men will have been thankful to referee Tomas Connolly for blowing the final whistle to stop the onslaught from continuing.
Sligo Rovers: Gary Rogers; Alan Keane (Marty Owens, 80), Jeff Henderson, Evan McMillan, Ross Gaynor; Raffaele Cretaro (Kieran Djilali, 70), Joseph Ndo (Liam Martin, 70), Lee Lynch, Danny Ventre, Aaron Greene; Anthony Elding.
Subs not used: Ciaran Kelly, Iarfhlaith Davoren, Pascal Millien, Ryan Connolly.
Bookings: Henderson (70), E McMillan (88).
Mervue United: Conor Gleeson; Michael McSweeney, Joe Woods, Stephen Walsh, Ross Kenny (Oscar Sibanda, 67); Alex Lee (Ryan Manning, 46), Paul Sinnott, Barry O’Mahony, Gary Curran (Noel Varley, 38), Gary Kelly; Brendan Lavelle.
Subs not used: Dillon Murphy, Martin Conneely, Tom King, Michael James.
Bookings: Kenny (50).
Sendings Off: O’Mahony (18).
Referee: Tomas Connolly.
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Anthony Elding (Sligo Rovers).