Saint Patrick’s Athletic stayed in the title race with a hard fought 1-0 win over Sligo Rovers at Inchicore on Friday night. Chris Forrester's excellent first half goal gave Liam Buckley's side the three points with Danny North being sent off for the away team.
Chris Forrester created the first chance of the game early on. He cut in on his right foot but dragged his shot wide. In the eighth minute Sligo Rovers’ Danny Ledwith tried to take Brendan Clarke by surprise when he attempted to score from a long range free kick. His strike just shaved the post.
In the 16th minute Forrester played a lovely first time pass to Mark Quigley. Pat's number 10 got the better of a couple of Sligo players and hit a powerful shot on his right foot which Gary Rogers only managed to hold at the second attempt.
Saint Pats deservedly took the lead in the 18th minute. Christy Fagan got past Gavin Peers, who slipped inside the penalty area. He advanced towards goal and played it back to Chris Forrester who placed it beautifully into the corner of the net past Rogers.
The home team, who grew in confidence as the first half went on, very nearly doubled their lead in the 29th minute. Mark Quigley played a sublime pass in behind the Sligo defence and picked out Christy Fagan. Fagan controlled it perfectly and struck right footed but Gary Rogers managed to get a hand to the ball and tipped it round the post, although referee Rob Rodgers did not award the corner.
Sligo Rovers created their first real chance of the match early in the second half. Sean Maguire gathered possession on the edge of the area and turned to shoot. He managed to hit a decent left foot strike which was just wide of the post.
Just a couple of moments later Danny North missed a golden opportunity against his former club. John Russell played the ball to Sean Maguire who then found David Cawley in space. Cawley played it to his left where the unmarked North was in space. The Sligo striker looked certain to score but somehow his shot went across the face of goal and was wide.
Chris Forrester was involved again in the 70th minute when he combined brilliantly with Christy Fagan. Forrester played it to Fagan who played it back to his team mate. Despite the close attention of two Sligo Rovers defenders Pat's number 17 managed to get his shot away but his strike was just wide of the post.
Fagan came close to scoring himself 10 minutes from the end of normal time. Despite the close attention of Evan McMillan the Saints striker managed to chip an excellent effort on goal which Rogers did very well to tip away for a corner.
Sligo's chances of getting back on level terms were not helped by Danny North in the 86th minute. As Conor McCormack raced into the visitor's half North tried to tackle him from behind but it was a clumsy challenge and he was shown a straight red card against his old club.
Despite the loss of North John Coleman's team did not throw in the towel and substitute Eamon Zayed nearly scored on his Sligo Rovers debut in injury time. Sean Maguire played him in on goal with an excellent pass. Zayed looked certain to score but Brendan Clarke came off his line like lightning and he narrowed the angle to make an outstanding save.
That was the last chance of the match. The victory for Pats means that they will remain in third place in the table nine points behind leaders Dundalk who still have to come to Inchicore this season. Sligo Rovers stay in fifth place.
Saint Patricks Athletic: Brendan Clarke; Conor McCormack, Sean Hoare, Kenny Browne, Ian Bermingham; Greg Bolger, James Chambers; Conan Byrne, Mark Quigley, Chris Forrester; Christy Fagan.
Subs not used: Rene Gilmartin, Ger O' Brien, Derek Foran, Lorcan Fitzgerald, Peter Durrad, Sam Verdon, Jack Bayly.
Booked: Forrester (75), Quigley (87).
Sligo Rovers: Gary Rogers; Alan Keane, Gavin Peers (Evan McMillan 58), Kalen Spillane, Iarfhlaith Davoren; Sean Maguire, John Russell, Seamus Conneely, David Cawley, Danny Ledwith (Eamon Zayed 46); Danny North,
Subs not used: Richard Brush, Regan Donelon, Eric Odhiambo, Ruairi Keating, Paul O' Conor.
Booked; Davoren (47), Russell (26).
Sent off: North (86).
Referee: Rob Rodgers.
Extratime.ie man of the match: Chris Forrester (Saint Patricks Athletic).