Sport League of Ireland

Wednesday 17 January 2018

Kenny in disbelief as Sligo blow title race open

Dundalk 0 Sligo Rovers 3

Sean Gannon of Dundalk in action against Craig Roddan of Sligo Rovers Photo by Paul Mohan/Sportsfile
Sean Gannon of Dundalk in action against Craig Roddan of Sligo Rovers Photo by Paul Mohan/Sportsfile

Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny was left in a state of disbelief after watching his side fall to the heaviest home defeat of his tenure against 10-man Sligo Rovers on Saturday night.

Achille Campion ended the Bit o'Red's five-game goal drought when he broke the deadlock after just 47 seconds following a howler from Dundalk 'keeper Gary Rogers. The veteran has come under scrutiny in recent weeks following a number of high-profile mistakes but Kenny backed the 35-year-old to put them behind him.

"Gary's form with Dundalk led to him getting into the international squad and last season he was the Goalkeeper of the Year. We must not forget that," he said.

"It has happened twice in the last couple of weeks and that's unprecedented really. You never really see mistakes like that happen. It's just one of those unfortunate episodes."

Sub Phil Roberts curled home goal number two before the break and even though Liam Martin was sent off in the 54th minute, Dave Robertson's team added a third thanks to Raffaele Cretaro's sublime strike on the hour.

"We came flying out of the blocks but the first goal killed us in many ways," added Kenny. "The players created plenty of chances and Sligo's goal led something of a charmed life. Ronan Finn had three chances and I don't know how we didn't get an equaliser.

"Sligo's second and third goal were brilliant strikes. It's not good enough from our point of view but we have to take it on the chin."

The shock result, coupled with Cork City's 5-0 drubbing of Galway United at Eamonn Deacy Park, has given the top of the SSE Airtricity League table a different complexion ahead of tomorrow night's heavyweight clash between the top two at Oriel Park.

Kenny's Dundalk are still top of the pile but their lead has been trimmed to just one point while John Caulfield's side have a goal difference of plus two over the champions.

"We had an advantage and that has slipped somewhat but we're at home on Tuesday night and we've been in this position before," said the Dundalk boss.

"We need to rally around each other and put in a big performance and get a big result. That would put us four points ahead and in the driving seat."

"It's a big game but it's one we are well capable of winning," he added. "Over the past three years they have never been found wanting. We have shown the capacity to rise to the big occasion and we must do that again."

DUNDALK - Rogers; Gannon, Gartland (Shiels 72), Boyle, Massey; Shields (McEleney h-t), O'Donnell; Meenan (Mountney 52), Finn, Horgan; McMillan.

SLIGO ROVERS - Nugent; Adebayo-Rowling, Leahy, Boylan, Keohane; McCann, Russell (Kearns 67), Roddan, Martin; Cretaro, Campion (Roberts 32).

REF - B Connolly (Dublin)

Irish Independent

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