Sligo sunk by early goal

 

Shamrock Rovers maintained their pursuit of the pace-setters in the Premier Division with a valuable win over struggling Sligo Rovers at the Showgrounds on Saturday night. The only goal of a rather untidy contest came after just seven minutes. A precise through ball from Marc Kenny released Matt Britton and his low cross was finished to the net by the in-rushing Tony Cousins.

Earlier, the Hoops had sounded their attacking intentions when a 25-yard free-kick by Kenny smashed against the crossbar.

Sligo, who haven't won in their last nine league outings, were always struggling to come to terms with the slick passing and decisive running of Shamrock Rovers in the first half. Mark Westhead was obliged to make a fine reflex save to keep out a Cousins header after 14 minutes and Richard Purdy also went close for the Hoops just before the interval.

Sligo sent on substitute striker Marcus Hallows at the start of the second half and suddenly they began to move with greater fluency. Twice within the opening three minutes of the second half, Rovers' goalkeeper Robert Forde was called upon to execute smart saves to keep out efforts from Mark Hutchinson and Matt Hare.

Sligo's best chance fell to midfielder, Lee Thew, after 72 minutes, but he blazed over in front of an open goal after Niall Ogden's quickly-taken free kick had unhinged Shamrock Rovers' back line.

The Dubliners were content to soak up all Sligo had to offer and then counter attack quickly on the break. This strategy should have brought a second goal after 75 minutes, but the unmarked Cousins missed the target with a downward header from no more than six yards.

Sligo Rovers: Westhead, Birks, Hutchinson, Ogden, Hare, Doig, Jones, Moran, Thew, Rose, Lynch, Subs: Hallows for Rose (halftime), Southworth for Jones (70 mins).

Shamrock Rovers: Forde, Britton, Dunne, Brazil, Whelan, Colwell, Tracey, Cousins, Purdy, Kenny, Francis. Subs: Stokes and O'Neill for Francis and Treacy (77 mins).

Referee: B O'Regan (Cork).