Sunday 25 February 2018

McCabe keeps Sligo on track for Europe

Sligo Rovers 2
Drogheda United 1
Sporting Fingal 2
At Patrick's Athletic 2

While the race for top honours heats up above them, the battle for third place, and a spot in next season's Europa League, is taking on a drama all of its own and Sligo Rovers did their hopes no harm with a stuttering 2-1 victory at the Showgrounds.

New boss Bobby Browne was taking charge of the visitors for the first time and Drogheda looked like they might take a point when Eric McGill's 60th-minute cross-cum-shot deceived 'keeper John Gibson and floated into the net.

Sligo had taken a first-half lead through Alan Keane's penalty, but they spurned a number of second-half chances to go back in front before winger Gary McCabe smashed a stunning volley home with nine minutes left on the clock.

Sligo Rovers -- Gibson, Keane, Peers, Lauchlan, Davoren, Boco (Dillon HT), Ryan, Russell, Ndo, McCabe, Blinkhorn (Doyle 77).

Drogheda United -- Duggan, McGill, McNally, Harris, Haro, Meenan, Daly, Crowley, Brennan (Osbourne 85), McMahon, Flood.

Ref -- D Hancock (Dublin).

SPORTING Fingal boss Liam Buckley believes his side deserved much more than a point after Saints kept this season's unbeaten run against their Dublin neighbours intact.

"It was absolutely nowhere near a fair result," said Buckley.

"If you look at it from a possession point of view, I think we had far more possession. If you look at it from a chance point of view, we had far more chances so how is that a fair result? We had loads of chances."

However valid his point was, his side left it late to capitalise on a game that they did largely dominate possession-wise, but it wasn't until the 77th minute that Glen Crowe began to eat into a two-goal deficit.

It was then that St Pat's resistance finally ran aground, with David McAllister and Noel Haverty, in particular, having done well in a makeshift back-line.

Ryan Guy put in a scintillating shift for the Saints. The San Diegan cut loose in the eighth minute, turning the usually secure Colin Hawkins this way and that before leaving the ball on a plate for Dave Mulcahy to pounce unmarked for the opener.

Nine minutes into the second half Guy again played a decisive hand, this time intercepting a Lorcan Fitzgerald throw-in, before laying off to Danny North, who finished well past Darren Quigley.

With 13 minutes remaining Fingal finally made a move, with Crowe profiting from Gary O'Neill's industry to reduce the margin.

Sporting now had their tails up and seven minutes later they finally restored parity, Ronan Finn's shot being helped past Gary Rogers with a deflection off Damien Lynch.

Sporting Fingal -- Quigley, O'Brien, Maher, Hawkins, Fitzgerald (McFaul 59); Byrne, Finn, Williams, Cahill (Quinn 78); O'Neill, Crowe,

St Patrick's Athletic -- Rogers, McAllister, Haverty, Kenna, Lynch; O' Connor (O'Brien 87), Byrne, Mulcahy, Doyle ; Guy (Cash 82), North (Faherty 87)

Ref -- D Hanney (Dublin).

Irish Independent

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