Date: 7:45 p.m. Oct. 6, 2009
Venue: Richmond Park
In a lively and very entertaining opening period both sides had a number of presentable opportunities to take the lead, and as early as the second minute Stuart Byrne looped a header towards the Sligo goal but Ciaran Kelly wasn’t seriously tested by it.
Then, just three minutes later, Ryan Guy pounced on a Gavin Peers slip and got to the byline, but his pull back was well dealt with by the Bit O’Red backline. Within seconds of that near miss Declan O’Brien went very close with an excellent curling effort which bent just wide of Kelly’s left hand post.
It was then the turn of the men from the north-west to press; Brian Cash stole brilliantly in behind Enda Stevens following the full back’s slip and Cash’s pinpoint cross was met firmly by the head of Romauld Boco but, with the goal at his mercy, the striker could only succeed in heading straight at Brendan Clarke. Matthew Blinkhorn could also have profited from a free header inside the Pat’s box on 11 but could not keep his header down and the game remained scoreless.
Rafael Cretaro was to buck the wasteful trend moments later with his first opportunity of the game as he latched on to a long ball through the centre of the St. Pat’s defence and he calmly side-stepped John Lester, who was filling in at centre half, and passed the ball left footed beyond Clarke in front of the Shed End on 14 minutes.
The little striker didn’t have to wait very long for his second of the game either, as Blinkhorn flicked cleverly past Damian Lynch and drilled the bouncing ball across the Pat’s box for Cretaro to clinically slam home. The game, unsurprisingly, then slowed from its' frenetic opening pace as the Inchicore club attempted to find their way back in to the game knowing defeat to ninth placed Rovers would drag them firmly back in to the relegation scrap.
Try as they may, the Saints looked off colour and shockingly devoid of ideas in their efforts to overcome Paul Cook’s high tempo outfit. Guy did find the Sligo net with a smart shot from 16 yards just before half time but the American had handled in the build up and the goal was correctly disallowed.
Upon the resumption of play it was again Cook’s men looking the more positive against Pete Mahon’s patched up XI and the Bit ‘O’ Red were even coping comfortably with Guy’s searing pace, though it was Guy’s indecisiveness and not any lack of pace which cost Pat’s on 56 as he and O’Brien broke quickly on Sligo's back four but while the fan favourite was weighing up his options Alan Keane nipped in to thwart the danger.
Guy’s usual work rate was present but his finishing was sadly amiss and he headed Gareth O’Connor’s in-swinging corner wide from a standing position on 64 to the astonishment of everyone inside Richmond Park, himself included.
Caretaker boss Mahon had seen enough and sprung a double substitution withdrawing Declan O’Brien who was replaced by Bobby Ryan and Darragh Ryan who made way for Mark Leech. The changes made little difference. Confidence is low at St.Pat’s and the level of performance is even lower these days.
Sligo played out their game plan to perfection, sitting deep to protect their two goal lead and breaking with great gusto when the chance arose and they deserve great credit for the energy they showed in closing the home side down on the rare occasions that Mahon’s men dared attack. Only three points separate the sides and only one looks to have the necessary fight to get themselves out of trouble.
St. Pat’s: Clarke, Lester, Byrne, Guy, Darragh Ryan (Leech ’64), Gavin, Lynch, Stevens, O’Connor, Dempsey, O’Brien (Bobby Ryan ’64).
Subs not used: Rogers, Maher, Cawley.
Sligo Rovers: Kelly, Ventre, Kendrick, Peers, Keane, O’ Grady, Cash, Boco, Blinkhorn, Cretaro, Doyle.
Subs not used: Turner, Marshall, Ryan, Camano, Schlingerman.
Man of the Match: Rafael Cretaro, lethal when it mattered most.
Referee: Declan Hanney.