Saturday 20 January 2018

Battle of the titans turned out to be a dreadful display

Pascal Millien puts the Hoops' defence under pressure during a disappointing clash of the Rovers.
Pascal Millien puts the Hoops' defence under pressure during a disappointing clash of the Rovers.

I THINK we were all initially surprised that the fixture between the top two teams in the country over the last number of years, Sligo Rovers and Shamrock Rovers, wasn't to be broadcast live on our national television station.


But we should be thankful it wasn't.

It was a dour affair illuminated by crazy mistakes and a moment of stupidity.

If I write this with my Rovers hat on it was a great point and I would have taken it before I left for Tallaght. But, as a fan of the League of Ireland, I have to say it was dreadful stuff with two to three efforts on goal by both sides at best.

The teams lined out with 4-5-1 formations and for large periods of the game cancelled each other out.

I thought that any football that was played came from the home team and they seemed to get a lot of joy down our left side as Aaron Greene seemed to get exposed on a number of occasions in the first half particularly. We made a few heroic blocks with Alan Keane, Gavin Peers and my player of the year thus far, Evan McMillan to the fore during this period.

However, we created nothing going forward and lacked clear penetration in that first half. We seemed to get to a point and there was no forward pass on, forcing us to go back or give the ball away.

Shams were not much better but probably should have scored when Gary McCabe was put through by Shepperd.

The second half was full of incidents but lacked quality over all.

It started with Shams having lots of possession without hurting us and then a terrible clearance from Murphy deflected into David Cawley's path and he finished expertly. I hoped after that we would kick on but we showed nothing and that disappointed me greatly. We sat back and got what we deserved.

Once again our back four were keeping us in it and Aaron Greene who had a tricky first half was outstanding in the second half.

The midfield area was non existent for both sides and players of the quality of Lee Lynch and Ronan Finn didn't affect the game.

Shams scored from a set piece with a couple of minutes remaining and that's a few goals we have conceded from corners this season. What Anthony Elding did was stupid and will now leave us short of options up front

Overall, it was a fair result in a game that lacked the quality and urgency of previous encounters between the sides.

We were joint top after the first series of games but we need to improve. It's been a while since I sat in the away end with Rovers fans and the atmosphere they generate is deafening. Some of the songs are so witty and 'The Hoops' are having a party, the Leinster Senior Cup was a classic.

We all sighed when the draw for the FAI Cup was made last week. I dreaded the trip to Waterford as a player and a tight poor pitch leaves a difficult assignment for our lads.

Last Thursday, I attended the Rovers exhibition in the Sligo Library Museum and I would strongly advise any avid Rovers fan to get in there and have a look. It's a terrific exhibition which shows the great history of our exceptional club.

Sligo Champion

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