New Sligo Rovers manager John Coleman got off to a winning start as his side defeated ten man Drogheda United 2-1 at United Park.
The away side raced into a two-goal lead inside the opening 25 minutes courtesy of strikes from Danny North and Kieran Djilali before Gavin Brennan pulled one back from the penalty spot but United had to play the remainder of the game a man less as Paul Andrews was dismissed following an altercation with North.
The Bit o’Red’s recent injury woes were evident as they named only four players on the bench while Drogheda caretaker boss Darius Kierans made a total of six changes from the team that lost 6-0 at the hands of bottom side Athlone Town a fortnight ago.
Sligo started in the ascendancy and North came close to opening the scoring for Rovers on ten minutes as his audacious flick on from Djilali’s delivery crashed off the bar.
The visitors took the lead moments later as another attack from the right saw Raffaele Creatro cross for North and the striker made no mistake this time as he headed past Schlingermann at the near post.
It was 2-0 soon after as a Drogheda corner kick quickly turned into a Sligo counter attack as Djilali released North down the left and the striker cut inside two United defenders before returning the ball to the winger who found the far corner of the goal.
Free-flowing football from a dominant Rovers almost resulted in number three as Djilali picked up the ball in the centre circle and his pass found the run of David Cawley but the midfielder’s low cross was diverted behind by Stephen Maher with Cretaro lurking.
United were awarded a penalty against the run of play on 38 minutes for a shirt tug on Declan O’Brien and Gavin Brennan sent Gary Rogers the wrong way to give United a foothold in the game.
Tensions boiled over on the stroke of halftime as Andrews was booked for the home side following a coming together with North but the defender then lashed out at the striker and he received his marching orders while North was only booked for his involvement.
Sligo started the second period intent on capitalising on their one-man advantage and Cawley was afforded plenty of space in midfield as he played North through on goal but the striker’s left foot drive was straight into the grateful hands of Schlingermann.
The Drogheda keeper was tested again on 65 minutes as sublime one touch play between Djilali and John Russell cut through the Drogheda defence but the former should have done better when presented with a clear shot on goal.
The Bit o’Red squandered a three on one breakaway in the latter stages of the game as Djilali, North and Russell couldn’t decide between themselves who to shoot allowing Drogheda captain Shane Grimes enough time to intervene.
Schlingermann came to United’s rescue again in the final minute of normal time as he stopped Russell’s tame shot but it mattered little as Sligo held on for their first win in four league games.
Drogheda United: Michéal Schlingermann; Stephen Maher, Paul Andrews, Mick Daly, Shane Grimes; Cathal Brady (Carl Walshe 69), Gavan Holohan, Paul Crowley (Sean O’Connor 80), Daire Doyle, Gavin Brennan; Declan O’Brien.
Subs not used: David Ryan, Roy Kierans, Ciaran O’Connor, Dale Harding, Gary O’Neill.
Booked: Andrews (45), O’Brien (45), Daly (73)
Sent off: Andrews (45)
Sligo Rovers: Gary Rogers; Ross Gaynor, Seamus Conneely, Kalen Spillane, Danny Ledwith; Paul O’Conor, John Russell, David Cawley: Raffaele Cretaro, Kieran Djilali, Danny North (Aaron Greene 90).
Subs not used: Richard Brush (gk), Sean Maguire, Regan Donelon.
Booked: Spillane (38), Gaynor (42), North (45), Ledwith (83)
Referee: Derek Tomney
Attendance: 800 (estimate)
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Kieran Djilali (Sligo Rovers)