Friday 24 November 2017

Bit O'Red must be patient, urges North

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

SLIGO ROVERS gave themselves a lifeline in last week's first leg, but it will take something seismic to take them past Spartak Trnava tonight.

Gavin Peers' second-half strike meant that the Bit O'Red didn't leave Slovakia empty-handed, but they need a two-goal victory to progress to the third qualifying round of the Europa League -- something the club has never achieved in European football.

With a new stand built and 3,000 tickets sold, the north-westerners won't be lacking in support, but they will need much more if they are to book a clash with some real European royalty in Steaua Bucharest.

The pressure is on Spartak to defend their lead, a marked contrast to Sligo's exit last year at the hands of Vorskla Poltava. Paul Cook's team secured a brilliant draw in Ukraine only for the visitors to sucker-punch them at The Showgrounds.

Victory tonight would bring the same financial reward as winning the league for Ian Baraclough's charges, so there are plenty of incentives.

Sligo are not lacking in firepower and should score, but it is at the back where they will need to be wary. They may have the best defence in Ireland this season, but they were carved open by the Slovakians last week and must be vigilant not to be caught on the counter.

If they are to pull off a remarkable result, a full-strength Sligo will need Danny North to fire, and the striker is urging his team-mates to be patient.

"I don't think we need to attack from the start," he said. "As long as we don't concede early, that is important. As the game goes on that is when we will have to start worrying if we don't score, but we just need to go out and play our own game and hopefully the goals will come."

Sligo were filled with frustration when returning last week and there is a feeling that the tie is theirs to win.

"It was easier than I thought to be honest," North said of the first leg. "I expected them to have a lot more of the ball than they did and I thought we gave a very good account of ourselves.

"Obviously three silly goals were given away from our own doing. We were disappointed but Peersy got the away goal which is vital. It gives us a chance."

Irish Independent

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