Penalty miss stokes Sligo's anger in war of the Rovers

 

The record will show that goals from Billy Woods and Sean Francis won this match to put Shamrock Rovers into the FAI Cup semi-finals. But it was all a little flattering as First Division Sligo Rovers deserved something from a match that they simply seemed destined to lose.

Despite the blustery conditions, it was an intriguing contest from the start with Sligo more than holding their own; their confidence boosted by a first minute chance when Shane Robinson had to head a Jason Moran corner off the Shamrock line.

But the home side hit back and Francis and Tony Grant came close at the other end before a further two minutes had elapsed.

Never overawed, rank outsiders Sligo were giving as good as they got and Rafael Cretaro wasted a scoreable chance on 11 minutes when hurrying his shot wide after Mark Hutchison fortuitously picked him out.

Having survived missed chances from Grant and Francis, Sligo were left hopping mad on 36 minutes when they spurned a chance to take the lead when missing a penalty - an incident that Sligo will argue was the turning point in the game.

Controversially, Shamrock goalkeeper Tony O'Dowd was only booked when he took down Aubrey Dolan after fumbling a shot from Sean Flannery. With Sligo still angry at his not being sent off, O'Dowd then dived the right way to save Moran's poorly-struck spot-kick.

As if to rub Sligo's noses in it, Shamrock then took the lead seven minutes later. Tony Grant used his pace and strength to get to the end line down the right to cross low for Woods to force the ball home from close range.

The second half ebbed and flowed before Shamrocks killed off Sligo with a second goal from a penalty of their own on 75 minutes.

Damien Richardson's side had had an earlier penalty claim waved away, while Grant had a goal disallowed before they sealed their win.

Grant was taken down by Jim Sheridan as he raced onto a long clearance and Francis gave John Healy no chance from the spot.

Woods cracked a shot off the crossbar and then forced an excellent save from Healy as Shamrock finished with a flourish. But Sligo scarcely disgraced themselves in a performance that they will surely learn much from.

"FIFA makes the rules and the referee didn't adhere to them for our penalty," said an angry Sligo manager Don O'Rirodan. "Their goalkeeper clearly took down our lad when he was about to score and wasn't sent off. That was the turning point in the game."

SHAMROCK ROVERS: O'Dowd; Costello, Scully (Deans 76), Palmer, Byrne; Robinson, Colwell, Tracey, Woods; A. Grant (S. Grant 86), Francis.

SLIGO ROVERS: Healy; Rossiter, Feeney, Sheridan, Hutchison; Cretaro, O'Donoghue, Dolan, J. Moran; Flannery, McTiernan (B. Moran 64).

Referee: J McDermott (Dublin).