Greene on the double for unstoppable Sligo
UCD 0 Sligo Rovers 3
THREE goals, three points and business as usual for Sligo Rovers.
Given their attractive style of play, Ian Baraclough's side will never be labelled boring, but they will suck the intrigue from the title race if they can maintain this early pace. The champions came into this encounter with a 100pc record and a goal difference of +10, while the students turned up in search of a first win with a -10 record from their first five outings. In that context, the outcome came as little surprise.
Still, after slipping up at the Belfield Bowl last year, Sligo came here with a little point to prove and passed the test quite comfortably, although it took them a while to really assert their dominance.
UCD set out with the intention of making life difficult for the Bit O'Red and they were hardly under the cosh when they fell behind in the 27th minute. Sligo had created some early half chances without really cutting the students apart and their opener came from a break that followed a corner kick for the hosts at the other end.
Baraclough tinkered with the formula that succeeded at Dalymount Park on Friday with a 4-2-3-1 deployed rather than a 4-4-2 with Raffaele Cretaro pushed wide right, new recruit Kieran Djilali coming in on the left and Aaron Greene moved into a central role behind Anthony Elding. Man of the match Greene was dangerous throughout, and found himself in the right place to drill under the body of Mark McGinley after Cretaro advanced and crossed for Djilali whose flick teed up the Dubliner.
Greene had demonstrated against Bohs that he can hit the target cutting inside on his left foot, and he proved the point again by forcing a stop from McGinley before the interval. UCD were struggling to create an opportunity of note, with lone striker Dave McMillan unable to escape a Sligo centre-half pairing that included his brother Evan until early in the second half when he called Gary Rogers into action after a counter that stemmed from a David Cawley error. Indeed, the travelling support had to suffer a few troubling moments after the resumption with Jeff Henderson making a brave tackle to frustrate sub Mark Langtry.
The nerves were settled just before the hour mark, however, when Cawley smashed home the second after Greene's initial attempt was blocked.
After that, it was just a matter of seeing out the duration, with Baraclough able to welcome Danny Ventre back from injury. The Liverpudlian was greeted warmly, but the biggest cheer of the night was reserved for the third goal as Greene embarked on a mazy run that culminated with an accurate right-footer into the bottom corner.
With struggling Shels next up at the Showgrounds on Saturday, the peloton could already be in trouble.
UCD – McGinley, Matthews, Boyle, O'Connor, Coyne; Kavanagh; Clarke, Creevy, Burke (Langtry 53), Russell; McMillan (Morrison 79).
Sligo Rovers – Rogers, Keane, McMillan, Henderson, Gaynor (Davoren 83); Cawley, Lynch (Connolly 81); Cretaro, Greene, Djilali (Ventre 73); Elding.
Ref – D McKeon (Dublin)