Rovers go five points clear at the top after comfortable win at Sligo

Daniel Cleary, Dylann Wats and Graham Burke find the net away from home

Sligo Rovers 1 Shamrock Rovers 3

Shamrock Rovers confidently re-established a five-point lead at the top of the Premier Division with a solid 2-0 win at the Showgrounds on Saturday night.

Goals from Daniel Cleary, Dylan Watts and Graham Burke secured the win as the Hoops matched Derry City’s win on the road from the night before.

Defender Nando Pijnaker responded with a goal for the hosts, who remain sixth in the table.

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The visitors put pressure on from the start and were rewarded with the opener on 17 minutes, as Jack Byrne’s corner fell to Sean Kavanagh on the left, and his pinpoint cross was powered home by the head of centre-back Cleary.

The second arrived shortly before the break, as Rory Gaffney switched the ball from the left to Byrne in the centre of the park. His beautifully-weighted pass released midfield partner Watts inside the area, and he finished coolly past a helpless Richard Brush.

Former Hoop Brush started in goal in place of the injured Luke McNicholas, who has been ruled out for the remainder of the season with an ankle injury.

With centre-back Garry Buckley also on the long-term injury list, it left the home side short defensively, but they had a big call for a penalty turned down on the stroke of half-time, after Max Mata’s shot appeared to hit the arm of a Hoops defender.

The Dubliners claimed their third with a close-range finish from Burke midway through the second half, before Sligo’s Pijnaker pulled one back just minutes later.

SLIGO ROVERS: Brush; Horgan, Blaney, Pijnaker, Kirk; Liivak (O’Sullian 72), Bolger (Morahan 62), Cawley (Burton ht), McDonnell (Fitzgerald 62); Keena, Mata (Barlow 62).

SHAMROCK ROVERS: Mannus; Gannon (Hoare 73), Grace, Cleary, Kavanagh (Lyons 71); Finn (Farrugia 85), Watts, O’Neil, Byrne (Serdenyuk 85); Burke (Greene 71), Gaffney.

Referee: P McLaughlin.