Tuesday 30 May 2017

Ndo inspires Sligo stroll after Collins gamble fails

Monaghan Utd 0 Sligo Rovers 4

As a manager Roddy Collins has never been afraid of risk. Over a decade ago, he out-thought Otto Rehhagel in the UEFA Cup, long before the German gained a reputation as a tactical genius for guiding Greece to the 2004 European Championships.

But last night, Collins took one gamble too many. By adopting such an aggressive tactical approach -- opening this game with just three defenders -- the Monaghan manager became a hostage to fortune as Sligo outnumbered the hosts on the flanks before cruising to an easy victory.

Easy wasn't how it looked initially, though, as Monaghan's physicality allowed them to set the tone in the opening 20 minutes, but once Joseph Ndo decided to turn on the class, this game turned.

Creator of three of Sligo's four goals, Ndo, more than anyone, ensured the FAI Cup hosts moved into the quarter-finals, where they will meet either Shamrock Rovers or UCD.

Should Sligo attack with the same invention as they did last night then they have to be fancied.

Yet, by the same token, they will know things will be much more difficult because Monaghan, although relentlessly positive in their approach, defended with such looseness that Sligo's four-goal-advantage could easily have been doubled.

Athleticism

As it is, they will be happy with what they produced, especially after an opening 20 minutes when Monaghan dictated the terms of the game, packing midfield with five players, and utilising the athleticism of their excellent centre-forward Michael Isichei.

Yet for all their territorial dominance, ultimately Monaghan's confidence proved fragile and once Sligo took the lead, Gavin Peers heading in Ndo's corner in the 23rd minute, their vulnerability was apparent.

Within seven minutes, Sligo had doubled their lead, Ndo initiating the move before Eoin Doyle got involved, feeding Alan Kirby, who in turn released Aaron Greene. Greene's finish was precise.

Monaghan's commitment and continued sense of adventure was admirable but their defending was not. As a result, 2-0 became 3-0 on 51 minutes as Ndo set up Doyle, who laid the ball off for Kirby to thunder in a superb goal from the edge of the box.

Sligo's edge in both fitness and class became even more obvious four minutes from full-time when substitute Matthew Blinkhorn set up Greene for his second and Sligo's fourth.

Monaghan United -- Sava; Collins (Philip Byrne 60), Grimes, A Byrne; Whelan, McDonagh, R Brennan, Reilly (Paul Byrne 54), Marks; Isichei, S Brennan (O'Brien 54)

Sligo Rovers -- Kelly; Cretaro, Peers (Foran 66), McGuinness, Davoran; Ndo (Blinkhorn 74), Ryan (Powell 66), Ventre, Greene; Kirby; Doyle

Ref -- P Tuite (Dublin)

Irish Independent

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