Sligo relief after they withstand Longford rally
Sligo Rovers 3 Longford Town 2
Published 13/07/2015 | 02:30
Sligo Rovers had to survive a second-half onslaught from Longford Town at the Showgrounds before emerging with a vital three points.
The Bit O'Red looked to be cruising as they led 3-0 at half-time thanks to strikes from David Cawley, Keith Ward and Dinny Corcoran.
But Mark Salmon's penalty threw the midlanders a lifeline, and a debut goal from new signing Dean Kelly ensured that Sligo had to survive a nervy end.
They held on to hand the new management team of Joseph Ndo and Gavin Dykes a first win after four attempts and Dykes felt the players deserved their victory.
"That performance has been coming. Joseph has been working really well with these players and getting them to believe in their ability.
"I thought we played really, really well and it was a badly-needed three points."
Rovers , who were without eight players because of injury, took the lead when Corcoran released Raffaele Cretaro to cross the ball for Cawley to slide it home on 21 minutes.
Two minutes later, Ward chipped goalkeeper Paul Skinner to score the second, and the crucial third arrived when Corcoran finished from close range following Gary Armstrong's pass.
Dykes added: "Keith Ward was great and scored a fantastic goal. Ryan Coulter hasn't played in a long time, but came in and pulled off a good save at the end to make sure we got the three points.
"Young Gary Boylan, Regan Donelon and Gary Armstrong were all excellent, and all round I thought we were very good."
Skinner had to pull off a last-ditch save to prevent Longford falling further behind from an audacious Ward free-kick in the second half, but the winger then fouled Salmon in the area and the Longford midfielder dusted himself down to convert the spot-kick and pull a goal back.
Kelly nodded home the second, but boss Tony Cousins admitted his side had given themselves a mountain to climb.
"We actually started well and were comfortable for the first 20 minutes, but we then had a nightmare period defensively before the break," Cousins said.
"I changed things about at half-time, and we gave it a go, but we just left ourselves with too much to do."
Sligo Rovers - Coulter, Cretaro, Peers, Keane, Donelon, Puri, Cawley, Boylan, Ward (Devaney 69), Armstrong (Flately 85), Corcoran.
Longford Town - Skinner, Sullivan, Rossiter (Mulhall 89), Gorman, Powell, Salmon, Rice, O'Connor, Doherty (Ben Mohamed 63), Shaw, O'Sullivan (Kelly h-t).
Ref - N Doyle