Date: 5:45 p.m. Aug. 4, 2011
Venue: The Showgrounds
It was obvious from the offset that Sligo Rovers were as determined to get a result as a baby learning how to walk. Vorskla Poltava showed their class very early on when they were able so pass around comfortably. Pavel Rebenok was a danger from the start and he had his first opportunity in the third minute. His long rang effort was blocked by Danny Ventre, who was filling in for Alan Keane.
Matthew Blinkhorn was at the end of a Sligo opportunity when Conor Powell took the ball down with his chest and passed to the Blackpool man. Jovan Markoski was the stand out player in the first half and he went very close to catching Sligo on the break. The scoring was opened in the 15th minute by Serhiy Zakarlyuka. He slid the ball in to the net after a lay-off from Vasylk Sachlo.
Sligo hearts were broken just seconds later when Rebenok doubled the visitor’s lead. He finished off a cross from Ivan Krivosheenko by knocking it in from close range. Sligo kept going however and showed plenty of that determination mentioned above. The Ukrainian side’s only weakness was set pieces but Sligo did have a number of chances prior to half-time. Richie Ryan sent a flying ball over the top but it was too heavy for Matthew Blinkhorn to latch on to.
The Bit O’Red started the second half with an almost impossible task. Joseph Ndo was Sligo’s best player and with his usual twists and turns, he was able to dispossess Vorskla and keep the ball from the opposition. The Poltavan side went ever so close to extending their lead when Clarke is left after a four on two break. Armend Dallku found Sachlo who’s effort absolutely smacked off the cross bar. Vorskla could have, and definitely should have taken the score line to 3-0 for the evening.
A free-kick, taken by Joseph Ndo, was swung perfectly in to the Vorskla box and the head of Jason McGuinness latched on to it perfectly but hit it straight at Serhiy Dolhanskiy, who was very rarely tested. The ever impressive Markoski was making Sligo fans nervous as he kept breaking forward. He caught on to a ball, left by itself, and was landed in a one on one with Clarke. The ball looked to have gone in but it was, in fact, tapped just wide. An unfortunate mistake by Gavin Peers almost gave Markoski an opportunity again. Peers’ backpass was too near Markoski who chipped it over Brendan Clarke only for Peers to make his way towards the goal and clear the ball.
The slick passing of the Ukrainians was just too much for Sligo, who themselves are used to out passing sides. Man of the match Markoski smashed a free kick off the crossbar in the dying stages of the game. After what was an excellent first leg, Sligo were knocked out by the better side who’s passing was just too much.
Sligo Rovers: Brendan Clarke; Danny Ventre, Gavin Peers, Jason McGuinness, Conor Powell; Richie Ryan, Aaron Greene (Eoin Doyle, 56), Alan Kirby, Raffaele Cretaro (John Dillon, 69), Joseph Ndo; Matthew Blinkhorn (John Russell, 69).
Subs not used: Ciaran Kelly, Derek Foran, Iarfhlaith Davoren.
Bookings: Gavin Peers, Danny Ventre.
Vorskla Poltava: Serhiy Dolhanskiy; Armend Dallku, Oleh Krasnoperov, Jovan Markosi, Ivan Krivosheenko, Serhiy Zakarlyuka (Andriy Oberenko, 46), Yevhen Pieskov, Dzmitry Asipenka, Oleskiy Kurylov, Pavel Rebenok; Vasylj Sachlo (Roman Bezus, 68).
Subs not used: Oleksandr Matveyev, Yevhen Pieskov, Dzmitry Osipenka, Oleksiy Chychykov, Serhiy Velychko.
Bookings: Oleh Krasnoperov, Armend Dallku.
extratime.ie Man of the Match: Jovan Markoski.
Referee: Emir Aleckovic.