Saturday 24 March 2018

Five-star Sligo crush Lilies to keep the heat on in title race

Sligo Rovers 5
Dundalk 0

Sligo Rovers took their goal tally to 12 in two games by hammering Dundalk at the Showgrounds last night.

Paul Cook's side were always in control against the hapless visitors, who had to play almost all of the 90 minutes with 10 men, and finished the game with nine.

Richie Ryan, Joseph Ndo, John Dillon and Eoin Doyle all scored on the night, before a late own-goal devastated a demoralised Dundalk.

For the second game in a row, Rovers were at a numerical advantage early on.

With just three minutes gone, Dean Bennett and Cian Byrne hesitated on dealing with a ball over the top, and Matthew Blinkhorn capitalised to squeeze between them and race through on goal. Bennett took him down and referee Damien Hancock had no hesitation in reaching for the red card.

From the free-kick Ryan curled a stunning left-foot shot into the top corner and Dundalk were already chasing the game.

The second did not arrive until the 36th minute, but by that time Sligo boss Paul Cook already had the luxury of withdrawing centre-back Gavin Peers so that he couldavoid picking up a booking that would lead to a suspension.


The man that replaced him, John Dillon, was only just on the field when he combined with the excellent Aaron Greene to tee up Ndo for a cracking strike from the edge of the area.

Dundalk enjoyed their most positive period at the start of the second half as they pressed Rovers, and Mark Quigley could have troubled Brendan Clarke had he been a bit sharper.

But the third goal just past the hour-mark put Rovers back in cruise control. Greene flicked the ball into the path of John Russell, who forced a great save off Paul Murphy. The rebound fell to Dillon, who finished from a tight angle.

Blinkhorn could have had a fourth when Conor Powell released Greene and Blinkhorn directed his first-time shot goalward, only for Murphy to save with his feet.

Blinkhorn was withdrawn as top-scorer Doyle returned from injury soon after, and he was less than a minute on the pitch when he directed the ball home from close range.

Rovers wrapped it up on 86 minutes, as Greene's cross from the left was directed into his own net by Johnny Breen.

Dundalk's miserable night was compounded when Greg Bolger was shown a second yellow card and a subsequent red for dissent in the final minute.

Sligo -- Clarke; Keane (Martin 83), Peers (Dillon 34), McGuinness, Powell; Russell, Ndo, Ventre, Ryan, Greene; Blinkhorn (Doyle 61).

Dundalk -- P Murphy; Madden, Byrne, Bennett, N Murphy; Ward (Reilly 88), McDonnell (Duffy 79), Bolger, Breen, Gaynor; Quigley.

Ref -- D Hancock (Dublin)

Irish Independent

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