Dundalk fight back to hold advantage into mid-season break

Controversial penalty seals points for champions at Showgrounds

Sligo Rovers 1 Dundalk 2

Dundalk will take their three-point lead at the top of the table into the mid-season break after a hard-fought defeat of a rejuvenated Sligo Rovers at the Showgrounds.

Richie Towell's winner from a controversial penalty and a Rovers own goal helped the visitors come from behind to take all three points against a side managed for the first time by Joseph Ndo.

There was no sign of manager Owen Heary at the Showgrounds amid continued uncertainty over his future, and Rovers were also without the injured John Russell and Steven Beattie.


Instead, youngster Gary Armstrong was handed his first league start of the season in the centre of midfield.

The Bit O'Red could have been in front inside three minutes, as Sander Puri got onto David Cawley's ball over the top, and dipped the ball over Gary Rogers only for Andy Boyle to take it off the line.

But six minutes later the home side were deservedly in front. Morten Nielsen cut in from the right-hand side and drove a low shot that took an awkward bounce over Rogers and into the net.

Dundalk boss Stephen Kenny voiced his displeasure with what he was seeing, and his side's first real chance was created by Rovers, as Gavin Peers and Richard Brush combined to present Daryl Horgan with possession on the edge of the area. But Brush redeemed himself with a flying save to keep Horgan's effort out.

But the leveller came on 34 minutes, with Horgan and the Rovers defence again involved.

Horgan swung a superb ball in from the left and Danny Ledwith could only turn it into his own net under pressure from John Mountney.

Both sides made changes at the break, but Dundalk were growing in confidence and they edged in front 10 minutes into the second half.

It came after referee Paul McLaughlin adjudged that Alan Keane had handled Dane Massey's cross from the left.

It looked a harsh call as the defender was very close to the Dundalk full back, and Peers was booked for arguing the decision.

But Towell stepped up to send Brush the wrong way from the spot for what proved the decisive goal.

SLIGO: Brush, Keane, Peers, Folan, Ledwith, Cawley, Armstrong, Puri, Wearen (Ward 68), Nielsen (Devaney ht), Corcoran (Cretaro 61).

DUNDALK: Rogers, Gannon, Gartland, Boyle, Massey, Mountney (Meenan ht), Shields, Towell, Horgan, Finn (O'Donnell 72), McMillan (Byrne 75).

Ref: P McLaughlin.