Dundalk just do enough as Sligo's Roddan sees red
Sligo Rovers 0-1 Dundalk
David McMillan was the hero once again as Dundalk pulled seven points clear at the top of the table last night.
The striker rifled home the only goal of the game for the champions with his 19th of the season, as Stephen Kenny's side eventually saw off the challenge of a side who played most of the game with just ten men.
Captain Craig Roddan was fortunate to be able to return to the Rovers midfield after his one-match suspension was deemed to be served in Saturday's game against Finn Harps, despite that game being abandoned after 22 minutes. But his luck ran out after just eight minutes, as he slid in recklessly on Daryl Horgan.
A booking may have sufficed on the greasy surface, but referee Paul McLaughlin was in no doubt and issued a straight red card to the former Liverpool youth player.
Dundalk - unchanged from their hard-earned defeat of Bohemians - had already created a chance for Horgan through Patrick McEleney's cross, but the winger hit fresh air when trying to direct the ball to the net.
But they were ahead four minutes after Roddan's red card, as McEleney and Ronan Finn worked an opening for McMillan, and the free-scoring striker finished confidently.
But Rovers responded well to the two early setbacks and Liam Martin was only narrowly off target with a header after getting on to the end of a cross from Achille Campion.
Gary Rogers started in goal for the league leaders just 24 hours after he was on the bench for the Republic of Ireland against Serbia in Belgrade, and he was given a real scare midway through the half.
He raced from his line to prevent Kieran Sadlier getting on to the end of a long ball forward, but could only head the ball up in the air and into the path of the attacker. But the Dundalk defenders recovered to crowd out Sadlier, and the opportunity was lost.
At the other end, Horgan fired an effort narrowly over the top after skilfully cutting in from the left, and he really should have done better when picked out by McEleney's pass in front of goal, but he hooked his effort wide.
Gavin Peers was harshly booked for what seemed a fine challenge on McEleney early in the second half, and Horgan narrowly flashed a low effort the wrong side of the post.
At the other end, Sean Gannon saw yellow for a foul on Liam Martin, and Rogers had to be sharp to deal with Sadlier's dangerous free-kick.
Darren Meenan and Robbie Benson marked their return from injury as second-half substitutes, as Dundalk went in search of an elusive second goal. Benson had a great chance when he was picked out by John Mountney's free-kick, but his close-range volley flew over the bar.
And the home fans had a big shout for a late penalty as Peers was felled by Andy Boyle's challenge in the area, but referee McLaughlin was unconvinced. Instead Dundalk held out for a valuable win that moves them clear of Cork at the top of the table ahead of a hectic ten days.
SLIGO ROVERS - Schlingermann, Adebayo-Rowling, Leahy, Peers, Keohane, Roddan, Martin, Kearns, Sadlier (Russell 67), Cretaro, Campion (Place 86).
DUNDALK - Rogers, Gannon, Gartland, Boyle, Massey, Finn, O'Donnell, Mountney (Meenan 70), Horgan, McEleney (Benson 62), McMillan (Shiels 89).
REF - P McLaughlin