Finn spot on to keep Dundalk flying high
Dundalk 1 Sligo Rovers 0
Ronan Finn’s 44th-minute penalty was enough to give Dundalk a hard-fought win against battling Sligo Rovers at Oriel Park.
Finn’s spot-kick, his fifth of the season, propels the champions three points clear of Derry City and St Patrick’s Athletic at the top of the table.
The Lilywhites endured a frustrating first half as Dave Robertson’s Sligo side kept their shape well and gave very little away.
As a result, Dundalk were limited to half-chances with Ciaran Kilduff nipping in ahead of the advancing Micheal Schlingermann to toe-poke Brian Gartland’s pass off target in the 14th minute.
Kilduff, who started up front in tandem with David McMillan, then headed a delicious cross from Daryl Horgan against the post, although he was offside anyway.
The striker was involved again in the best move of the half in the 25th minute when he was picked out by Sean Gannon on the edge of the box. Kilduff’s chest control invited McMillan to strike but his partner blazed the effort over the top.
The visitors looked happy to contain Dundalk and their only real attempt came when Kieran Sadlier’s 25-yard free-kick saw Gary Rogers scramble to his right.
It looked like the Bit O’Red’s discipline would get them into the dressing-room all square at the break but that all changed on the stroke of half-time referee Ben Connolly adjudged Mick Leahy to have hauled Gartland to the deck from a Meenan corner, and Finn made no mistake from 12-yards.
Sligo emerged early for the start of the second half and Sadlier tested Rogers with a snapshot before Liam Martin picked Jimmy Keoghane out from the left, the former Woking man diverting his attempt just wide.
Dundalk struggled to get into first gear and it took until the 71st minute for them to really trouble the Sligo goal again, Horgan curling a wicked free just over the top.
They saw it out, however, and sit clear at the top despite the fact that they have yet to really click into gear.