Sport League of Ireland

Tuesday 26 September 2017

Peers backs Bit O'Red to progress after 'huge' away goal

EUROPEAN progression is still something that Sligo Rovers firmly believe is within their grasp, despite conceding three times in the first leg of their Europa League tie.

Spartak Trnava will carry the favourites' tag into next week's return clash in their second qualifying round clash after Miroslav Karhan and Martin Mikovic (2) found the net against the Bit O'Red.

Yet, Sligo remain upbeat. Gavin Peers' 68th-minute header is the away goal bonus that they craved, and their overall performance in Slovakia on Thursday was one to be proud of.

Manager Ian Baraclough was quick to state that he thought progressing to the third qualifying round was achieveable -- and that is something that defender Peers echoed.

"At half-time, we thought it was all over, but we managed a nick a goal and we went in at the end of the game feeling disappointed at the result, but positive about how we played," he said.

"The away goal is huge. It means we only have to win 2-0 at home in the second leg -- and we feel that we can do that.

"Obviously, we won't be going gung-ho, but we would back ourselves to score.

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"It's not just the away goal, though, we created five or six chances in the game. We hit the bar, had a couple go wide and two chances late on.

"We definitely were the better team on the night but the scoreline doesn't say it."

The tie will be brought to The Showgrounds next Thursday, where a big crowd is expected on a night when the club will open the new Volkswagen stand at the railway end of the ground.

For Peers, the club's current longest-serving player, the mindset must be a positive one considering their away goal and the fact that they outplayed the Slovak Super Liga runners-up.

"We have to be positive going into the second leg. We have the away goal and we really have to go for it now. And we feel that they are very beatable," said Peers.

"We probably gifted them three goals, which we're disappointed about, but other than that they haven't really tested us. We had played well, but conceding three goals before half-time killed us.

"We went in at half-time thinking that it could be over, but a few words were said and I think everyone realised that we were a far better side. So we really went for it in the second half.

"You could see that they sat back, which helped us, but we made sure that they stayed there as we kept putting the pressure on. I think that proved to us that they are a team that we can beat."

Tomorrow night, Baraclough's men are in league action as the Premier Division leaders host Cork City, with Iarfhlaith Davoren suspended and Alan Keane rated doubtful.

Irish Independent

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