Penalty agony for North as Sligo's Euro adventure grinds to halt
Sligo Rovers 1 Spartak Trnava 1
Europa League 2nd Qualifying round 2nd Leg
(Trnava win 4-2 on aggregate)
Danny North's missed first-half penalty proved costly as league leaders Sligo Rovers made their exit from Europe at the hands of Slovakian side Spartak Trnava at the Showgrounds last night.
North's 26th-minute spot-kick was saved by Miroslav Filiipko, who redeemed himself having tripped Romuald Boco inside the area. The 'keeper also made a brilliant diving save at the feet of Danny Ventre as his goal lived a charmed life.
But Peter Cvirik's smart free-kick with 20 minutes left put the task beyond Rovers, though they did grab a deserved consolation in injury-time when Jason McGuinness headed home Joseph Ndo's free-kick.
Rovers opted to start with Mark Quigley on the bench, despite the fact that he has scored three times in his last two games. Seamus Conneely continued at right full-back in place of the fit-again Alan Keane, while Raffaele Cretaro missed out through injury.
Sloppy defending cost Rovers dearly in the away leg a week ago, and in the early stages last night Ross Gaynor, Gavin Peers and Ventre all gave away possession in dangerous areas, though Gary Rogers went untested.
Instead, Rovers got to grips with the middle of the park, helped by Ndo's attacking flair and some hard graft by the excellent Boco.
The first real chance for the hosts arrived on 23 minutes, when McGuinness' header from Ndo's corner was cleared off the line.
A minute later, Ndo and Boco played Rovers out of danger on the left and tried to release North, before a panicked clearance from Marek Jamecka briefly threatened to sneak under his own crossbar.
But the best chance for the Bit O'Red came when Boco went down in the area and North missed from the spot. To compound the striker's misery, he picked up an injury at the end of the first half and lasted just four minutes of the second.
Rovers continued to dominate, but they lacked the killer touch in front of goal and were harshly punished when centre-back Cvirik opened the scoring.
Rovers were lucky not to fall two behind when substitute Michael Gasparik hit the crossbar.
And the 3,754 crowd were at least given something to cheer when McGuinness headed home in the dying minutes.
Sligo Rovers -- Rogers, Conneely, Peers, McGuinness, Gaynor, Millien (Connolly 77), Cawley, Ndo, Ventre (Lynch 72), Boco, North (Quigley 50).
Trnava -- Filiipko, Vyskocil (Carmota 62), Jamecka, Cvirik, Stozicky, Mikovic (Gasparik 68), Hamzel, Gross, Karhan, Schranz (Koubsky 85), Bicak.
Ref -- M Layushkin (Russia).