Tuesday 20 February 2018

Peers strikes back to keep Sligo's Euro dream alive

SPARTAK TRNAVA 3
SLIGO ROVERS 1
(Europa League 2nd qf rd, 1st Leg)

GAVIN PEERS ensured Sligo Rovers' European campaign is far from over after scoring a vital away goal in last night's first-leg clash in Slovakia.

Three goals inside eight minutes looked to have sent Ian Baraclough's side tumbling out but a second-half header from Peers gives them hope.

If they can turn the tie around at The Showgrounds next week, there is financial reward of a UEFA cheque worth €100,000 as well as the possibility of facing the likes of Liverpool or Inter Milan.

However, the three first-half goals scored by Miroslav Karhan and Martin Mikovic (2) means the Bit O'Red have a huge task of trying to turn this tie around.

"We have self-belief that we can win any game. We have only lost one game in the league this season, we feel we have a good squad and that the tie is very much alive," said Baraclough.

"We think we can claw a two-goal lead back. I think that away goal was very, very important. I felt we were the better team for long periods, apart from a mad five minutes."

Spartak had expected to win comfortably and they showed intent early on as Michal Habanek let rip from distance. Yet Raffaele Cretaro went close with two efforts, the first a deflected cross that went too far, his second chance a shot that flashed wide.

Spartak roared back as Patrik Gross forced Sligo 'keeper Gary Rogers into a fine save before Karhan opened the scoring when he headed in a corner from Vlastimil Stozicky. Still dazed from that goal, Sligo conceded again as a cross from the left found the unmarked Mikovic and he curled a shot past Rogers from the edge of the penalty area.

Less than a minute later, the winger got his second when he raced onto a stray pass, lured Rogers from his line and squeezed his shot in from an acute angle.

Now trailing 3-0, Sligo had it all to do in the second half. But they showed a real fighting spirit as Cretaro rattled the upright with a stinging shot and Joseph Ndo had a free-kick saved.

Cretaro again went close with a header before the visitors got their reward. A cross from Danny North picked out Peers, who got in ahead of 'keeper Miroslav Filipko to head in.

Baraclough's confidence afterwards was justified as his team were the better side here, but they have it all to do in the second leg.

SPARTAK TRNAVA -- M Filipko; M Habanek, M Janecka, P Cvirik, V Stozicky; P Gross, M Karhan; M Gasparik, M Mikovic (I Schranz 70), M Bicak (J Koubsky 84); L Tomacek (K Pavelka 60).

SLIGO ROVERS -- G Rogers; S Conneely, G Peers, J McGuinness, R Gaynor (J Henderson 90); D Ventre, D Cawley; R Cretaro (P Millien 77), J Ndo, R Boco; D North.

Ref --T Skjerven (Norway)

Irish Independent

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