Sligo harvest precious points

 

Sligo Rovers secured a priceless victory over Dundalk in this battle of the strugglers at the Showgrounds on Saturday night.

Dundalk looked sharper in an entertaining first half but Sligo stepped up a gear after the break to land a deserved win. Sligo made the vital breakthrough in the 50th minute. Alex Rowlands swung over a corner from the right and when the ball was only partially cleared Steve Jones pounced to volley high into the roof of the net.

Sligo came close to extending their lead on numerous occasions before Marcus Hallows grabbed a second with a powerful header three minutes from time.

Sligo Rovers: Boswell, Callaghan, Hutchinson, Reid, Sheridan, Charles, Jones, Shannon, Hallows, Ogden, Rowlands. Subs: Hetherston for Jones (86 mins), Oates for Hallows (89 mins).

Dundalk: Williams, Reddish, Doohan, Capper, Brady, McNulty, Doolan, Thew, Crawley, Sinden, Campbell. Subs: Ward for Sinden (57 mins), Harte for Brady (60 mins).

Referee: T Tully (Cork).

Even the result was perfect. The return of Linfield to Solitude, the North Belfast ground of Cliftonville, after 28 years went off without a hitch, ending in a draw.

Both sets of fans, in an attendance restricted to 1,500, reacted positively and there was no trouble inside or outside the ground.

Indeed the only abnormal thing on a day when football in the province took a giant step into the future happened elsewhere.

Leaders Glentoran were beaten 3-1 by Crusaders at the Oval in a match which took place two hours after Cliftonville had drawn 1-1. All three Crusaders goals came from Darren Lockhart.

At Solitude, Linfield central defender William Murphy was both hero and villain being sent off after shooting Linfield into the lead.

Cliftonville grabbed their equaliser after his departure with a superb strike by winger Tim McCann.