Monday 18 December 2017

Sligo now face survival battle

Brian Curran, Sligo holds onto possession during their Allianz Football League Div. 3 match against Wexford in Wexford Park on Sunday.
Brian Curran, Sligo holds onto possession during their Allianz Football League Div. 3 match against Wexford in Wexford Park on Sunday.

Sligo find themselves facing a potential survival battle after this setback at Wexford Park on Sunday.

A missed first half penalty by Adrian Marren proved costly for the Yeats County as they slumped to their third away defeat in Division 3 of the Allianz League.

Marren's well-struck spot kick in the 16th minute was brilliantly saved by Wexford 'keeper, Shane Roche.

It meant that Sligo were always playing catch-up against a Wexford side which was also guilty of squandering several clear-cut chances, registering a total of fourteen wides, nine of them in the opening period.

It was cruel luck on Marren that he should be the one to miss the penalty as he was Sligo's top performer on the day, decorating an outstanding personal display with eight excellent points.

Wexford settled much quicker and were a goal and two points up inside six minutes.

Conor Carthy opened the scoring with a point from play after 2 minutes and Sligo were struggling to find any sort of composure when the home side struck for a stunning goal, Michael O'Regan racing through unchallenged before firing an emphatic shot to the roof of the net.

Ciaran Lyng tapped over a free to stretch Wexford's lead to five points in the 6th minute and Sligo looked to be in real trouble.

The Yeats County finally got on target after 11 minutes. David Kelly showed what he could do with a proper service when he cut inside his marker and picked off a great score.

Daithi Watters replied with a long range point for Wexford but Sligo were beginning to play their way into the game and a point from a free by Adrian Marren kept them in touch. Then they were handed a glorious opportunity to really worry Wexford when they were awarded a penalty in the 15th minute. Kelly did well to set up Marren and the Curry man looked sure to slot the ball to the net before he was upended by the Wexford 'keeper, Shane Roche.

Roche escaped the ultimate punishment of a black card and atoned for his rash challenge with a brilliant save to keep out Marren's well struck penalty low to the keeper's left.

Sligo refused to panic, however, and were rewarded with a brilliant goal in the 21st minute.

Marren laid the ball into the path of Pat Hughes and the Geevagh midfielder charged forward before unleashing a blistering shot which flew into the roof of the net.

That left just a point between the sides and the momentum was very much with Sligo.

They got on level terms when Breheny tapped over a 21 yard free after Stephen Coen was dragged to the ground by Carthy who was shown a black card for his indiscretion.

Having worked so hard to get back to equality, Sligo then fell back into their bad habits, allowing the home side to regain the initiative.

Daithi Watters edged Wexford back in front in the 32nd minute and further scores by Michael O'Regan and Lyng gave them a three point advantage at the break, 1-6 to 1-3.

During this period, Sligo were lucky not to concede a second goal when PJ Banville fisted a close range effort across the face of the goalmouth when it looked easier to score.

Wexford pulled 1-8 to 1-3 clear early in the second half but Sligo enjoyed a good spell thereafter, with two pointed frees by Breheny putting them right back into it.

Marren was in great form as well when he hit three points in a row to cut the gap to the minimum, 1-9 to 1-8, it looked as if Sligo were well placed to take control.

However, they were dealt a crushing blow when Ben Brosnan grabbed Wexford's second goal in the 53rd minute, a brilliant effort at the end of a weaving run.

James Holmes and Lyng followed up with points in quick succession to put the Leinster side in a commanding position.

Sligo continued to look dangerous every time they managed to get the ball into the full-forward line and this was underlined by the brilliant Marren who shot over three magnificent points in a row to throw the Yeats County a late lifeline. With the gap down to three points, 2-11 to 1-11, Sligo were suddenly in with a chance of salvaging something from the game. However, an excellent score from play by Kevin O'Grady steadied the ship for Wexford.

Time ran out on Sligo and although Marren claimed his 8th point of the game from a free in injury time, Wexford held on to take the spoils.

It all means that Sligo face an anxious run-in to the campaign with games against Longford (home) and Roscommon (away) to come.

WEXFORD: S Roche, B Malone, G Molloy, M Furlong; A Flynn, J Breen (0-1), T Rossiter; D Watters (0-1), C Keogh; C Carthy (0-1), B Brosnan (1-1), M O'Regan (1-1); C Lyng (0-3), P J Banville (0-1), K O'Grady (0-1). Subs: R Tierney for Carthy (Black card, 25); J Holmes (0-1) for O'Grady (50), J Tubritt for Banville (60)

SLIGO: A Devaney, R Donavan, G Ryan, N Ewing; D Rooney, B Curran, K Cawley; J Kilcullen, P Hughes (1-0); E McHugh, M Breheny (0-3), S Coen; D Kelly (0-1), J Hynes, A Marren (0-8). Subs: C Griffin for Hynes (46), K McDonnell for McHugh (46), N Murphy for Coen (50), C McGee for Hughes (63), S McManus for Breheny (65), J Martyn for Rooney (67)

Referee: J Hickey, Carlow.

Sligo Champion

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