Sunday 25 August 2019

Rovers still learning to walk before we run

The Red Zone

David Goulden

With four League of Ireland clubs vying to progress in Europe this week, Sligo Rovers' outside chances of competing on the continent next year remains very much an outside bet.

It was mentioned here a couple of weeks ago that should a few results go Rovers' way and the teams around us drop a few points, then anything could happen.

Six points from the last five games and now eleven off the league's last qualification spot, the chances of the Bit O'Red being in the hat next year is not very likely. Even if two of the top three get to the FAI Cup final.

A scoreless draw against third from bottom Waterford did nothing to help things along.

It was poor fare from Rovers who suffered from under-par performances from big players.

On the wing, Romeo Parkes had nothing go his way. Not even his first half penalty. While Ronan Coughlan and Ronan Murray struggled to sync up top.

The game did highlight what is and has arguably been Rovers' problem area for the most of this season - midfield.

David Cawley endured what was probably his poorest display of the year. Wayward passing and Daryl Fordyce's inability to impose himself on the game had its toll. Rovers really seem to struggle as a unit this season when Cawley isn't on his game.

The hardest worker on the field, not for the first time this year was Kris Twardek. His endeavour, effort and willingness is a standard for others to reach.

But unfortunately his composure at a telling time along with the final ball again, wasn't there.

Despite losing some heavy hitters from the team that began the year, Waterford still posses a lot of League of Ireland experience and are dangerous.

Cory Galvin, who trialled in Sligo under Owen Heary, was maybe the Blues' best performer on the night and was a constant threat to Rovers.

Equipped with a wicked turn of place, he and Dean O'Halloran capitalised on plenty of loose balls between our defence and midfield.

Fortunately, each Waterford attack passed without landing a punch. But I don't think we could have complained much had they come away with a win.

One bright light for Rovers was new signing Danny Kane. The former Irish underage international took his competitive debut in his stride and should be a valuable asset to Liam Buckley.

Recuperating from long-term injury with the club since pre-season, Buckley has shown the sort of faith in the Dubliner not many at this level would be afforded. I would expect Buckley to want his stay in Sligo to last beyond the winter.

Something else we would all expect to a certain degree is progression in the FAI Cup after last week's draw.

Rovers have only mustered one win in the competition in the last three years, with embarrassing defeats to Wexford in the third round in 2016 and Longford Town in both 2017 and 2018.

You can be sure Rovers will afford every ounce of respect Glebe North deserve.

But without being presumptuous, you would have to forecast a League of Ireland Premier Division team overcoming a team who finished sixth in the Leinster Senior Football League last term.

Anything else would be hugely damaging to the club, who will hope a good cup run can add to summer coffers.

Before the trip to Balbriggan, Tolka or United Park or wherever that cup game brings us to, there are three league games to come against teams above us in the league.

Derry are next on Friday and it may not be an ideal time to play them.

Rovers, who could be without a number of regulars through suspension, will meet a frustrated Candystripes team who dominated UCD last week but couldn't find a way past a battling Students effort.

Buckley's mantra of 'see where the next game takes us' is probably the best way to go at this stage. We're still learning to walk before we take on the sprint.

Sligo Champion