Niall Newberry reporting from the Showgrounds
Sligo Rovers ended a run of three successive defeats in the SSE Airtricity League on Friday night after recording a 2-1 win over Dundalk – who have now lost twice in succession – at the Showgrounds.
The Bit O’Red took a shock lead inside the first 30 seconds through Romeo Parkes but Patrick Hoban equalised from the spot before Dante Leverock scored the decisive goal minutes before the break.
This was Sligo’s first home win over the Lilywhites since 2012 and they made two enforced changes from the side that lost against Bohemians a week prior with Leverock and Lewis Banks both starting.
Dundalk, who have now lost back-to-back league games for the first time in two years, were surprisingly unchanged from last Friday’s defeat at the hands of St Patrick’s Athletic in Inchicore.
Vinny Perth would have been seeking a response from his troops following that defeat but his Dundalk side made the most disastrous start imaginable.
Some hesitant play from Sean Gannon allowed the impressive Ronan Coughlan to find Banks, and the left-back crossed for Jamaican international striker Parkes, who calmly finished past Gary Rogers.
Stunned by that early concession, the visitors came dangerously close to shipping a second when Daryl Fordyce found himself through on goal before firing a low shot that went agonisingly wide.
Sligo again should have doubled their advantage when Parkes – who was causing Dundalk considerable trouble – got the better of Brian Gartland before his shot hit the inside of the post.
The hosts were made to rue those missed opportunities however when Dundalk were awarded a penalty after defender Kyle Callan-McFadden was penalised for handling the ball inside the box.
Hoban – who had a penalty saved earlier in the season against Sligo – made no mistake this time with a cheeky ‘Panenka’ finish to score his fourth goal and third spot-kick of the 2019 campaign.
In the midst of the latest controversy surrounding the FAI and John Delaney, both sets of supporters joined in unison for an anti-FAI chant in the 33rd minute while a ‘Delaney out’ banner was unfurled.
That didn’t disrupt what was a thoroughly entertaining first half at the Showgrounds however, and Sligo amazingly, yet deservingly regained their lead just four minutes before the half-time break.
A corner from David Cawley was headed on by Parkes before Bermudan international defender Leverock, diverted the ball home to send the Sligo supporters into raptures.
The most worrying aspect of this performance from Dundalk’s point of view was their inability to create any clear-cut chances with Sligo goalkeeper Mitchell Beeney a virtual spectator throughout.
Last season’s double-winners have been a shadow of themselves over the past two weeks and in truth, they never looked likely to force an equaliser, instead appearing to be void of any ideas at all.
In fact, it was Sligo that created the best chance of the second period when Coughlan’s cross from the left was met by Fordyce, who produced a remarkable save from former Sligo ‘keeper Rogers.
This result sees Dundalk drop to fourth, 13 points behind leaders Shamrock Rovers, albeit with two matches in hand, the first of which is against Bohemians this coming Monday night at Oriel Park.
Sligo Rovers: Mitchell Beeney; John Dunleavy, Dante Leverock, John Mahon, Lewis Banks; David Cawley, Kyle Callan-McFadden, Jack Keaney (Niall Morahan 89); Daryl Fordyce, Romeo Parkes (Kris Twardek 73), Ronan Coughlan.
Subs not used: Luke McNicholas, Sam Warde, Brian Morley, John Russell, Liam Kerrigan.
Booked: Kyle Callan-McFadden (25), Ronan Coughlan (33), Kris Twardek (82).
Dundalk: Gary Rogers; Sean Gannon, Brian Gartland (John Mountney 46), Daniel Cleary, Dane Massey; Sean Hoare, Sean Murray (Joe McKee 70); Daniel Kelly (Georgie Kelly 63), Jamie McGrath, Michael Duffy; Patrick Hoban.
Subs not used: Aaron McCarey, Cameron Dummigan, Dean Jarvis, Jordan Flores.
Booked: Daniel Kelly (13), Daniel Cleary (40), Jamie McGrath (44), Sean Hoare (57).
Referee: Rob Rogers.
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Ronan Coughlan (Sligo Rovers).