David Cawley 30' -
Drogheda United progressed to the final of the Setanta Sports Cup following a 2-1 win on aggregate against Sligo Rovers. A 1-0 win for the Bit o’Red at home on Monday night wasn’t enough to secure a place in the final against Shamrock Rovers.
Ian Baraclough made four switches from the team that was defeated by St. Patrick’s Athletic on Friday night. Pascal Millien, Joseph Ndo, Aaron Greene and Gavin Peers all took their place in the starting eleven in place of Kieran Djilali, Ryan Connolly, Danny Ventre and Jeff Henderson.
Mick Cooke made two changes from the team that beat UCD 3-2 at the weekend. Declan O’Brien and Alan Byrne took their places in the starting team as Graham Rusk and Alan McNally dropped to the bench.
The Bit o’Red knew going into the game that they would’ve had to overturn a two goal deficit to qualify for the semi-final of the Setanta Cup. That was clearly embedded in their minds as they started the game with urgency, knowing exactly what had to be done.
The Bit o’Red were guilty of missing a number of excellent chances in the early stages of the first-half. Drogheda ‘keeper Gabriel Sava gifted Aaron Greene a golden opportunity as he went to clear the ball from the edge of the box and slipped. Greene pounced on the ball but his effort was blocked by Brian Gannon.
Just minutes later, Rovers were scratching their heads in confusion, after Pascal Millien flew down the right, and the tricky winger crossed the ball into the box. Both Brian Gannon and Alan Byrne slipped, almost simultaneously and Aaron Greene nearly picked up the loose ball but it was cleared by Derek Prendergast.
It was the Haitian who, just minutes later, caused even more trouble for Mick Cooke’s defence. After a lot of work getting the ball into a good area, he went for broke and had an excellent effort cleared by the back of his team-mate Anthony Elding.
The opener came on the half-hour mark when some slack Drogs defending allowed Sligo time on the ball. The combination of Elding and David Cawley meant the Louth men struggled to clear and Cawley smashed home with an excellent effort from close range.
The visitors pushed to try and get one back just before half-time. David Cassidy’s free-kick swerved in and was headed towards Alan Byrne but he couldn’t connect properly and the ball went well over the bar.
Drogheda began the second half with a bit more life, and could’ve pulled one back through midfielder Paul O’Conor. The former UCD man’s spectacular effort from long range smacked the inside of the crossbar and bounced down and out and referee Arnie Hunter waved play on, despite the strong protests of Mick Cooke’s men.
The home crowd jumped out of their seats just minutes later when they thought they had got the much sought after equaliser. A cross from the right from Pascal Millien landed perfectly for Aaron Greene, but the former Shamrock Rovers man hit the side netting.
Sligo continued their search the second, and came agonisingly close on a number of occasions. First, Joseph Ndo’s corner smacked off Drogs defender Shane Grimes and was cleared off the line by Alan Byrne. Then, shortly after, Millien crossed in for former Grimsby man Anthony Elding who just couldn’t keep it down and hit it too high.
Drogs could’ve capitalised on a Sligo error when Danny Ventre lost the ball on the edge of the box and Gary O’Neill picked it up, but the former Hoops man failed to convert it to anything useful. Rovers came very close as the clocked ticked down, as Lee Lynch’s corner wasn’t cleared by the Drogs defence. It made its way perfectly to Iarfhlaith Davoren, who wouldn’t shoot and played it into David Cawley instead. The Mayo man squared it across goal but there was no Sligo player to latch on to it.
Drogheda launched an attack immediately after, and some good defending saw the ball eventually cleared. The Brennan brothers played with the ball for a bit before Ryan Brennan had a go, but Gary Rogers pulled off a good save. Graham Rusk picked up the ball but saw his effort blocked by Danny Ventre.
Ian Baraclough’s men were unable to find the net, and time soon ran out. A two nil win in the first-leg was enough for Mick Cooke’s side to progress to the final.
Sligo Rovers: Gary Rogers; Alan Keane, Gavin Peers, Evan McMillan, Ross Gaynor (Iarfhlaith Davoren, 83); Pascal Millien (Liam Martin, 82), Joseph Ndo (Danny Ventre, 65), Lee Lynch, David Cawley, Aaron Greene; Anthony Elding.
Subs not used: Adam Murphy, Jeff Henderson, Kieran Djilali, Ryan Connolly
Bookings: Cawley (46), Ventre (71).
Drogheda United: Gabriel Sava; Brian Gannon, Derek Prendergast, Alan Byrne, Shane Grimes; Declan O’Brien (Graham Rusk, 72), Ryan Brennan, David Cassidy, Paul O’Conor, Gavin Brennan; Gary O’Neill.
Subs not used: Michael Schlingermann, Stephen Quigley, Philip Hand, Michael Daly, Peter Hynes, Alan McNally.
Bookings: O’Neill (24), Cassidy (39).
Referee: Arnie Hunter
extratime.ie Man of the Match: Joseph Ndo (Sligo Rovers).