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Narrow win keeps Saints in hunt for league title

ST Patrick's Athletic showed that they have the ability to stay in the title race, the current champions overcoming the 2012 league winners Sligo Rovers with a 1-0 win courtesy of Christopher Forrester's tasty first-half goal.

But the Saints will need to show a lot more quality in the coming weeks on top of that undoubted ability if they are to retain their league title, Pats rather fortunate to finish with the three points and a clean sheet at Richmond Park as they needed a superb injury-time save from Brendan Clarke to deny Sligo a point.

Defeat for Cork City at home to Dundalk last night means that Liam Buckley's side can go second in the table if they win in Cork next weekend, though leaders Dundalk still have a nine-point lead over Pats, but Buckley will demand more from his side if they are to push Dundalk all the way.

This game came at the end of a difficult week for Sligo, the 2012 champions losing four players in a mid-season clearout - though they did also add some talent with new signing Eamon Zayed coming off the bench at half time - and it showed as Rovers looked out of sorts early on.

And Pats fans, seeing their side at home in a league game for the first time in over a month, had to wait just 18 minutes for their side to make the breakthrough.

Leading scorer Chris Fagan was the man doing the donkey work on this occasion, his fine ball setting up Forrester to score his eighth league goal of the season with a superb curling shot which was beyond the grasp of former Saint Gary Rogers. Conan Byrne almost made it 2-0 on 21 minutes but his strike, after a strong run from midfield, was narrowly over, while on 29 minutes Fagan should have put the game to bed, only for his shot to go wide of the target.

But Pats were unable to build on that and Sligo dominated for large spells in the second half, Sean Maguire going close twice in the space of a minute while Danny North should have levelled on 55 minutes only to fire wide, and Pats needed Kenny Browne to clear a Maguire chance off the line on 79 minutes.

Pats did show a response late on, Fagan denied by keeper Gary Rogers on 80 minutes while seconds later Sligo were down to 10 men, North shown a straight red card for a foul on Conor McCormack.

The impressive Maguire carved out an opening for Zayed in added time, Clarke making a fine save to deny the Sligo debutant. Defeat ends Sligo's faint hopes of a European place but for Pats, all roads now lead to Cork for next Friday.


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