Dundalk picked up their first away points of the season when they defeated Sligo Rovers on a 3-1 scoreline which more than flattered the hosts at the Showgrounds on Saturday night. Sean Connor's journeymen Chris Turner, Liam Burns and Darren Mansaram all got on the scoresheet as they came back to haunt their old club.
This statement is particularly true of Turner, who lorded the middle of the park from beginning to end and was the fulcrum of the Dundalk side which disassembled a ragged Rovers, who looked off the pace both mentally and physically. The visitors had to overcome a slow start, however, and it was not until Mansaram's unorthodox finish late in the first half that they began to take over. Thereafter, it was one-way traffic with Sligo's only response coming through a Rafael Cretaro consolation - although Owen Morrison could have setup a grandstand finish had he converted a late penalty.
The game opened brightly for the home faithful, with shots from makeshift right-back Romauld Boco and Seán Doherty being the fruits of their hard labour and dominance in the opening ten minutes. In between those chances however, fell a fantastic chance to Cretaro. This was provided by a low, axiomatically four-foot high cross from Morrison which was the perfect platform for Cretaro to launch a Zidane-esque volley which was goalbound if not for a fantastic save from Chris Bennion in the Dundalk net.
Sligo were well on top at this stage but in a rare foray forward just past the quarter-hour, Dundalk almost broke the deadlock when Turner smashed the crossbar from 30-yards, a chance the midfielder created from virtually nothing to signal Dundalk's ever-growing presence in the game. Turner then turned provider as he lofted a high chip towards Tiarnán Mulvenna, who controlled the ball perfectly and struck it on the volley towards goalkeeper Richard Brush. Brush, however, was equal to the shot.
And then it all fell apart for the Bit O' Red. Seven minutes from the half-time whistle, George O'Callaghan lofted a free into the box which Brush came to collect. However, he dropped the ball, and following a bit of a scramble tin the Sligo box, Mansaram stabbed home from close-range to mark his return to the Showgrounds and give Dundalk an unlikely lead at the break.
The second half opened with Sligo coming back into the game. Steve Feeney and Shaun Holmes both had chances within the opening quarter hour, although it must also be said that further openings also fell to Mansaram and Harpal Singh, who somehow missed an open goal for six-yards. However, on 65 minutes, the left-winger did mark his return to Sligo by providing a fantastic free from the left, which was met by the head of Burns who found the far corner with a well-placed header.
Turner then completed the rout on 76 minutes when he found himself one-on-one with former team-mate Brush following a through ball from Mansaram, and the 22-year-old made no mistake with the finish as he calmly slid the ball home. Sligo fans began to quickly depart, however, the game was not yet over and, within 60 seconds, Cretaro restored some respectability to the score. Richie Ryan played the ball into the box, and following a small scramble in which Cretaro had the ball caught under his feet, he finally buried it. The drama did not end there as, two minutes from time, Shaun Kelly pushed Cretaro over in the box and the referee awarded the penalty. However, Morrison stood up and whacked the ball into the side of the Dundalk team bus, which summed up the hosts' night.
Sligo Rovers: Richard Brush; Romuald Boco, Gavin Peers, Alan Keane (Eoin Torpey 82), Shaun Holmes; Owen Morrison, Conor O'Grady, Richie Ryan, Sean Doherty (Mauro Almeida 61); Rafael Cretaro, Steve Feeney (Paul McTiernan 68).
Subs not used: Ciaran Kelly (gk), Jason Noctor.
Dundalk: Chris Bennion; Simon Kelly, Liam Burns, Thomas Heary (Shaun Kelly 24), Dave Rogers; Tiarnán Mulvenna (Sean Mackle 68), Michael Daly, Chris Turner, George O'Callaghan, Harpal Singh; Darren Mansaram.
Subs not used: Ryan Coulter (gk), Mark Griffin, Dwight Barnett.
Referee: Neil Doyle.
Attendance: 1,800 (estimate).
Extratime Man of the Match: Chris Turner (Dundalk).