Elding on target again for impressive Sligo
Sligo Rovers 3
ANTHONY ELDING chalked up his fifth goal in four games as Sligo Rovers maintained their 100pc start to the season at Oriel Park.
Goals from Raffaele Cretaro and Gavin Peers gave the reigning champions a two-goal lead at the break before the former Grimsby Town striker headed home a Cretaro cross in the 53rd minute to put Sligo 3-0 ahead and in the driving seat at the top of the Airtricity League.
Dundalk pulled one back through Kurtis Byrne but it was not enough to bring an end to Stephen Kenny's unbeaten start as Lilywhites manager.
The champions arrived with four Setanta Cup and Airtricity League wins under their belts and they started with intent, with former Dundalk player Ross Gaynor making an overlapping run to test Peter Cherrie after just 90 seconds.
Dundalk failed to heed the warning and just three minutes had elapsed when the Bit O'Red forged ahead. Again they found joy on the flanks. Cretaro picked up possession wide right and cut in past the feeble challenge of Eoghan Osborne to drill the ball through Cherrie's legs.
The goal knocked the stuffing out of the home side and they struggled to get a foothold in the game. However, John Dillon, a title winner with Sligo last year, tested Gary Rogers with a low drive in the 14th minute after Kurtis Byrne had shown quick feet on the edge of the penalty area to set up the chance and Richie Towell saw a looping effort clear the bar.
Sligo continued to dominate the possession count but they showed little signs of opening Dundalk up again although Gaynor did smash another effort just over Cherrie's bar in the 28th minute.
The hosts steadied themselves after that but they were left with a mountain to climb going into the break as Sligo doubled their lead five minutes before half-time.
Gaynor was the architect, going down under a John Sullivan challenge to win a soft free from referee Paul Tuite. The Ardee native picked himself up to deliver a great free-kick which was turned home by the unmarked Peers from close range. This was Gaynor's third assist in two games.
An exciting start to the second half saw chances for both sides. Gaynor, a constant thorn in Dundalk's side, again tested Cherrie, this time after a fine solo run. At the other end, Rogers had to fling himself to his right to make a great stop from a Byrne header, much to the frustration of many of the 2,054 in attendance.
Any notions that Dundalk could somehow retrieve the situation were seemingly put to bed when Baraclough's side pulled three goals in front thanks to Elding's fourth league strike of the campaign. Cretaro's delicious cross from the right found the in-form striker hovering menacingly between Andy Boyle and Sullivan and he made no mistake from eight yards out.
Dundalk kept going and they were rewarded in the 68th minute when Byrne left Rogers with no chance with a dipping effort from almost 30 yards.
And they could have set up a grandstand finish when Keith Ward played a great one-two with sub Darren Meenan but his curling effort kissed the outside of the post and went behind.
DUNDALK -- Cherrie; Sullivan, Boyle, Massey, Osborne; Dillon (Meenan 65), Towell, McDonnell (Shields 70); Hoban (Faherty 57), Ward, Byrne.
SLIGO ROVERS -- Rogers; Keane, Peers (Henderson 55), McMillan, Gaynor; Cretaro (Connolly 84), Cawley, Lynch, Conneely (Djilali 73), Greene; Elding.
REF -- P Tuite