In a game that had as much excitement as a game of Monopoly in an old folks home, St. Patrick's Athletic beat Sligo Rovers on Saturday night at the Showgrounds thanks to a Mark Leech strike in the thirty-first minute.
The game started with a bit of gusto, as Sligo local Alan Cawley hit a free kick in the fourth minute just wide of Richard Brush's post from thirty yards out. The Englishman was called upon minutes later however to deny the goalscorer Leech as he struck a dipping volley that was easily saved.
The opening Pat's pressure was punctuated by Sligo attacks that saw former Derry City wingers Brian Cash and Owen Morrison have attempts at goal that were both saved by Gary Rogers in the Saint's goal.
The Inchicore outfit soon resumed pressuring the Bit O'Red goal at the former Shed End, and got their reward for this pressure when Leech scored just after the half hour mark. Jason Gavin brought the ball into the Sligo area and shot with pace at goal but Brush could only parry the shot into the path of the onrushing Leech, who had the easy task of finishing off a fantastic attacking move.
Attacking opportunities in the second half were mostly limited to half chances and long shots. The first of these half chances was presented to David Partridge on the fifty third minute after Kyle Moran crossed the ball from the left end line. Partridge's header however was wayward and he really should have done better.
The second half chance fell to Rommy Boco on the seventy first minute after a long Danny Ventre throw from the right. Ventre's header fell to melee in the box, and it fell kindly to Boco, who tried the spectacular bicycle kick from the edge of the area, but the shot was always going over.
The final two chances of the evening fell to the Bit O'Red, the first of the couple to Rafael Cretaro on the seventy eighth minute. Following hard work from Stephen Parkhouse, he layed the ball off to Cretaro on the right. Cretaro shot low and hard, but Rogers easily dived on the opportunity.
The final, and possibly the best chance of the night for Rovers came in the first minute of extratime. Shaun Holmes lofted the first corner of the evening from the right and aimed it towards the Pats six yard box. Boco rose highest to head the ball, but his header went over Rogers' bar.
The Sligo back line still looks shaky and unsettled, and I can imagine that their fans are praying for the return of Mauro Almeida and Chris Butler to help it get back to its best.
St. Pat's however still are a long way from their potential best. Their tendency to bypass the midfield and go route one ninety percent of the time is a tactic that could be avoided. The introduction of Ryan Guy did show a noticeable improvement in the attractiveness of the Saints play and a the potential danger that they could pose by keeping the ball on the ground.
Sligo Rovers: Richard Brush; Alan Keane, Danny Ventre, Gavin Peers, Shaun Holmes; Brian Cash (Richie Ryan 70), Conor O'Grady (c), Romuald Boco, Owen Morrison (Paul McTiernan 81); Raffaele Cretaro, Stephen Parkhouse (Steve Feeney 89).
Subs not used: Chris Butler, Eoin Torpey.
St Patrick's Ath: Gary Rogers; Jason Gavin (c), Jamie Harris, David Partridge, Enda Stevens; Gareth O'Connor (Ryan Guy 50), Alan Cawley (Stuart Byrne 76), Gary Dempsey, Darragh Ryan; Mark Leech, Kyle Moran (Mark Quigley 70).
Subs not used: John Lester, Gints Friemanis.
Referee: Dave McKeon.
Attendance: 1,700 (estimate)
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Jason Gavin (St Patrick's Ath).