Monday 22 January 2018

Sligo clinch EA Sports Cup

Sligo Rovers clinched their first silverware in 12 years with a 1-0 victory over Monaghan United in the EA Sports Cup final at The Showgrounds last night.

Matthew Blinkhorn's 14th minute strike proved the difference between the sides although the hosts dominated for long periods.

The Bit O'Red should have made sure of victory in the second-half but the visitors almost levelled through Brian Gartland's header on 73 minutes. Instead, Sligo Rovers held out for Paul Cook's first success as manager and Sligo's first trophy since League Cup success in 1998.

Sligo Rovers: C Kelly; A Keane, G Peers, J Laughlan, I Davoren; E Doyle, J Russell (G McCabe 78), R Ryan (c), R Boco; J Ndo, M Blinkhorn.

Monaghan Utd: G Sava; C McMahon, A Byrne, B Gartland, S Grimes; A Collins, S Brennan (C O'Connor 68), B Clancy, D Tierney (c) (A Lynch 84); K Berminghan, P Hughes (D Hanaphy 77).

Ireland ease past Maltese

The Republic of Ireland under-17s defeated Malta 3-1 in a European Championship qualifier at the Centenary Stadium in Ta'Qali yesterday.

The away side didn't take long to get going and were leading after James Murphy found the net only 12 minutes in.

Things got worse for the home side when captain Siraj Eddin Arab saw red for a second yellow in the 33rd minute. This was followed by the substitution of captain Terence Agius for Luke Baldacchino. Michael Drennan doubled Ireland's advantage in the 66th minute before Brandon Muscat pulled one back for the home side. The win was secured with a minute of normal time left when Kealan Dillon of Derby County scored. Next up for the Irish is Albania tomorrow.

Newcastle to face Gunners

Chelsea's conquerors Newcastle have been drawn at home to Arsenal in the fourth round of the Carling Cup.

The Magpies claimed a thrilling 4-3 success over the Premier League champions at Stamford Bridge in midweek. Holders Manchester United, who beat Scunthorpe in the last round, are at home to Wolves. Brentford's reward for their penalty shoot-out victory over Everton was a visit to another top-flight team, Birmingham, while Northampton, who stunned Liverpool at Anfield, were handed a trip to Ipswich.

Wigan will host Swansea at the DW Stadium. The other three ties see Aston Villa host Burnley, Leicester welcome West Brom and Stoke travel to fellow Premier League strugglers West Ham.

The ties will be played in the week commencing October 25.

Players hand

Pulis dilemma

Stoke manager Tony Pulis admits his players have given him a number of selection posers ahead of today's match at Newcastle.

An impressive midweek Carling Cup win by some of his fringe players against Mark Hughes' Fulham side has given the Potters boss plenty to consider ahead of the clash at St James' Park.

Players like Tuncay Sanli, Danny Higginbotham and Andy Wilkinson all pressed their claims for a place in the team and Pulis admits he has some difficult choices to make now.

"I would much rather be in this position than not be," he said.

"We have strength in depth now and that is fantastic for us. There are players who did very well on Tuesday and they will be hoping to play on Sunday. I will have a good look at it, and whilst I know there will be some players disappointed to miss out, the team I do put out there is one I believe can go and get the three points from this particular game."

Warnock talk does wonders

Neil Warnock's half-time team talk worked wonders as QPR maintained their 100 per cent home record with a 3-0 win over Doncaster. Rangers are now six points clear at the top of the npower Championship having made their best start to a season since 1947.

But they did not play like it during a first half in which Doncaster looked by far the better team while Warnock's attacking riches, such as Adel Taarabt, Jamie Mackie and Hogan Ephraim, misfired.

However, two second-half goals from Kaspars Gorkss, either side of Taarabt's penalty, gave Rangers the victory, albeit by a flattering margin.

"At half-time I told three or four of my major players they were a bit short and needed to step up, and they did. The goals came at good times. We were off the boil but Doncaster were the reason we were off the boil," said Warnock.

Keogh strike tames Lions

Andy Keogh's 89th-minute header gave Cardiff a 2-1 win after they looked set to waste the chance to return to winning ways against 10-man Millwall.

The on-loan Wolves striker picked the perfect moment to grab his first goal of the season and banish memories of back-to-back defeats for the Championship promotion hopefuls.

Millwall defender Scott Barron had handed the visitors an early lead with a rare strike, only to see Jay Bothroyd draw Cardiff level with his fifth goal of the season midway through what was an eventful first half.

Sunday Independent

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