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Monaghan defeat leaves food for thought

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Sligo Rovers side beaten two-one by Monaghan United in Sunday's pre-season friendly at the Showgrounds.

Sligo Rovers side beaten two-one by Monaghan United in Sunday's pre-season friendly at the Showgrounds.

Sligo Rovers side beaten two-one by Monaghan United in Sunday's pre-season friendly at the Showgrounds.

WITH just three weeks to go to the start of the new campaign, Sligo Rovers continued their pre-season preparations against First Division Monaghan United at the Showgrounds-but a two-one defeat showed just how much work needs to be done ahead of the Premier Division kick-off.There was certainly plenty of food for thought after two goals from Willie Doyle erased Ralf Cretaro'

By Michael Moran

WITH just three weeks to go to the start of the new campaign, Sligo Rovers continued their pre-season preparations against First Division Monaghan United at the Showgrounds-but a two-one defeat showed just how much work needs to be done ahead of the Premier Division kick-off.

There was certainly plenty of food for thought after two goals from Willie Doyle erased Ralf Cretaro's opener and gave Mick Cooke's side their second warm-up win over opposition from the top flight, Monaghan beating Galway United in their previous outing.

After a bright opening, embellished by Cretaro's 19th minute deflected effort, Rovers succumbed to a battling Monaghan and though they had chances to earn at least a draw, there were some worrying signs and it is patently obvious that manager, Rob McDonald, needs to strengthen his squad in the immediate future.

Formation

McDonald again opted for a 4-3-3 formation on what was a difficult playing surface to say the least, Australian under-21 international Tommy Arcaba in goal, with Gavin Peers, Jamie McKenzie, Gregg Strong-the former Wigan, Bolton and Dundee defender – and Sean Kelly across the back.

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Conor O'Grady, Adam Hughes and Fahrudin Kuduzovic were the mid-field trio, Rafael Cretaro on the right flank, Choice Aisien in the centre and Jason McCartney wide on the left.

If the Rovers back five were unsure for large parts of the match, the home side also failed to assert any degree of authority in mid-field and lacked penetration up front.

Ahead

Cretaro put Rovers ahead when Conor O'Grady was fouled outside the area and with Jason McCartney leaving the resultant free-kick to the Tubbercurry man, Cretaro's effort taking a deflection to beat Monaghan under-21 'keeper, Darren McQuaid.

A minute later, Sean Kelly's ball in from the left saw Kuduzovic having a shot saved at his near post by McQuaid.

Monaghan were level in the 34th minute with Kevin Williamson setting up Doyle and as O'Grady dived into a tackle and with Strong failing to clear, Doyle caught Arcaba off his line and lofted the ball to the net.

Four minutes later, Arcaba turned a Williamson drive over his own crossbar to ensure parity at half-time.

The First Division side went ahead on 50 minutes, the Rovers defence again exposed when Peter Darcy chested down Michael Kerry's free-kick for Doyle to slide the ball under Arcaba's body.

Rovers introduced a number of substitutes in the second-half, Gino O'Boyle coming on at the break to push up alongside Aisien.

Aisien hit four goals in the opening friendly against Swinford, and was twice denied by McQuaid, who raced from his line in the 75th minute to save at the striker's feet and then held a low shot from the Nigerian international two minutes later.

McQuaid also saved from O'Boyle after a jinking run by Cretaro as Monaghan held on for the win.

Sligo Rovers: Arcaba, Peers, McKenzie, Strong, Kelly, O'Grady, Hughes, Kuduzovic, Cretaro, Aisien, McCartney. Subs., O'Boyle for Kuduzovic (h.t.); Foy for Kelly (57 mins); Mannion for Hughes (59 mins); Julian for McKenzie (72 mins); Coleman for Peers (84 mins).

Monaghan United: McQuaid, Whelan, Kerry, Burke, Mooney, Darcy, Heffernan, Hussein, Farrell, Doyle, Williamson. Subs-Smyth and Gannon for Mooney and Farrell (h.t.),O'Connor and Toal for Whelan and Williamson (75 mins), McGann for McQuaid (78 mins).

Referee: Paul Deering.












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