St Patrick’s Athletic 1 Sligo Rovers 0
As he did in Bulgaria 10-days ago Serge Atakayi scored another opportunistic winner as St Patrick’s Athletic kept their quest to qualify for Europe again next year on the right track.
A big three points consolidates St Patrick’s fourth place in the table, four ahead of Sligo and six behind Derry City.
The home side’s new signing, former Ireland under-21 goalkeeper Danny Rogers, saw immediate action turning Will Fitzgerald’s drive out for a corner with just a minute played. In a lively opening, Luke McNicholas at the other end kept his focus well to clasp Atakayi’s shot that deflected off defender Shane Blaney following Mark Doyle’s swift counterattack.
After a lull, Harry Brockbank flashed a volley wide of a Sligo post on the half-hour, though there was no such reprieve for the visitors a minute later as a right mix up at the back gifted St Patrick’s their goal.
Blaney inadvertently knocked Eoin Doyle’s through ball past the outrushing McNicholas.
Atakayi, as against CSKA in Sofia, was wide-awake to the loose ball to take it around Nando Pijanker and roll home his first league goal for the club. Sligo worked Rogers as they chased the game in the second half, skipper Adam McDonnell rifling straight at the keeper before Niall Morahan brought a fine diving save at full stretch.
St Pat’s were reduced to 10 men on 64 minutes when Mark Doyle, just back from a three-man ban for his sending off in Europe, received a straight red card for catching Paddy Kirk in the head with a raised foot.
When play resumed four minutes later, Sligo fluffed a gilt-edged opening to level.
Substitute Greg Bolger’s free kick was nodded back across goal for Lewis Banks who contrived to miss the target with a free header.
Atakayi might then have doubled St Pat’s lead on the break only to drill wide when given a run on goal.
Rogers had the last say with the save of the game on 90 minutes, parrying a stinging drive from Kailin Barlow before the ball was scrambled clear for a corner.
ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC: Rogers; Brockbank (Lennon, 69), Redmond, Grivosti, Breslin; O’Reilly, Forrester; Cotter, M. Doyle, Atakayi (Owolabi, 87); E. Doyle (Coughlan, 81).
SLIGO ROVERS: McNicholas; Banks, Pijnaker, Blaney, Kirk; Morahan (Barlow, 77), Fitzgerald; Liivak (O’Sullivan, 66), McDonnell (Heaney, 89), Burton (Bolger, 66); Mata.
Referee: Ben Connolly (Dublin).