Dundalk 0-2 Sligo Rovers
Two stunning strikes from Alan Keane and Conor O’Grady condemned Dundalk to a fifth home defeat in seven games this season as Sligo Rovers expertly executed a smash-and-grab victory at Oriel Park on Friday night. The home side dominated possession for long periods, however, once again, their failure to fire in front of goal cost them dear and they now remain in the relegation playoffs zone, three points adrift of their nearest rivals.
Dundalk started with three changes to the team that were beaten by Saint Patrick’s Athletic seven days earlier as Chris Turner, Tiarnán Mulvenna and Ger Rowe replaced Dave Rogers, Harpal Singh and Declan O’Brien. And the Lilywhites almost took the lead after just eight minutes when Turner’s free-kick was pushed away by Richard Brush. Dundalk continued to threaten but it was Sligo who came closest to an opener when Shaun Holmes forced Chris Bennion to turn the ball around the post after his free-kick almost crept into the bottom corner.
Just moments before half-time, Dundalk should have taken the lead when Shaun Kelly cut in from the right and played the ball back to Darren Mansaram, whose effort was foiled by a combination of goalkeeper and defence, before Mansaram fired a stinging 35-yard effort just wide of the top corner. Those chances proved costly as Sligo took a shock lead on the stroke of half-time when Keane scored from 25-yards with a wonderful dipping shot. Rowe had an opportunity to hit back straight after the break but he fired straight at Brush, before Mansaram cracked the crossbar with a header from a Michael Synnott corner.
Ten minutes into the second half, Dundalk looked to have a passage back into the game when Shaun Kelly was fouled in the area. However, instead of pointing to the penalty spot, the referee instead gave an indirect free-kick for obstruction, a set-piece which was wasted. A short header back to the ‘keeper then gave substitute Singh a chance which was thwarted by a fine Brush tackle, before Sligo doubled their advantage midway through the half. The visitors broke down the right and Romuald Boco cut the ball back for captain Conor O’Grady who curled a superb shot to Bennion’s top right-hand corner, a strike which killed off any hope of a Dundalk revival.
DUNDALK FC (4-4-2): Chris Bennion; Simon Kelly, Thomas Heary, Liam Burns, Michael Synnott (Michael Coburn 80); Shaun Kelly, Chris Turner, Michael Daly, Tiarnán Mulvenna (Harpal Singh 60); Darren Mansaram, Ger Rowe (Declan O’Brien 60).
SLIGO ROVERS FC (4-4-2): Richard Brush; Alan Keane, Gavin Peers, Danny Ventre, Shaun Holmes; Brian Cash, Conor O’Grady, Richie Ryan, Owen Morrison; Stephen Feeney (Danny Keohane 66), Romuald Boco.
Referee: Derek Tomney (Dublin).