North strikes twice
A DOUBLE strike by Danny North gave Sligo Rovers the edge in the first leg of the Setanta Cup semi-final against St. Patrick's Athletic at the Showgrounds last Tuesday.
The former Saints striker grabbed a goal in each half to give the Bit O'Red a commanding lead to take to the return game in Inchicore on April 14th. Producing their most fluent performance of the season to date, Rovers dominated the game from start to finish and would not have been flattered by an even more convincing winning margin.
St. Pat's had midfielder, James Chambers, dismissed for a second bookable offence midway through the second half and seemed content to hold out for a one goal deficit.
However, Rovers continued to push forward in the closing stages and their endeavours were rewarded when North struck for a second goal.
Adopting an adventurous 4-4-2 formation, Rovers signalled their intentions inside the opening minute when Kieran Djilali forced Rene Gilmartin to a smart save at his near post.
That set the tone for the evening and it took the Bit O'Red just sixteen minutes to strike the front.
Aaron Greene, who was outstanding on the night, set up North who cut inside from the left before unleashing a stinging drive which crept under Gilmartin on its way to the net.
Rovers should have made it 2-0 ten minutes later but Paul O'Connor shot tamely at Gilmartin after North and Maguire had combined to create the opening. It was the first of a number of squandered chances.
Maguire headed inches wide from Greene's corner three minutes into the second half and then directed a close range effort wide of an open goal.
Pat's were lucky to survive again in the 73rd minute when North got in behind the defence but was denied by substitute 'keeper, Brendan Clarke.
The visitors occasionally threatened to get back into the game late on but Rovers put the result beyond all doubt with a second goal in the 89th minute.
Keane linked with Odhiambo who provided a defence-splitting pass.
North had still plent to do ,however, but showed great composure in guiding the ball beyond Clarke from a tight angle.
Only an agile save by Clarke prevented North from completing his hat-trick deep into injury time.
SLIGO ROVERS: Brush, Keane, Henderson, Spillane, Gaynor; Djilali, Conneely, O'Connor, Greene; Maguire, North. Subs: Odhiambo for Djilali (67), Russell for Maguire (73), Cawley for O'Connor (85)
ST. PAT's: Gilmartin, McCormack, Hoare, Foran, Fitzgerald; Byrne, Chambers, Lynch, Brennan; Quigley, Kavanagh. Subs: Oman for Foran (inj. 25), Clarke for Gilmartin (inj. 49), Forrester for Byrne (69) Ref: M Smith