Dundalk slipped to back-to-back league defeats for the first time under Stephen O’Donnell as Stefan Radosavljevic’s 90th-minute winner bagged Sligo Rovers all three points at Oriel Park on Good Friday.
The game looked destined to end in a draw as the clock entered the dying stages but the Faroe Islands international robbed the under-pressure Alfie Lewis, made his way into the Dundalk penalty area unopposed and beat Nathan Shepperd with a low finish.
The result saw the Bit o’Red claim their first win in Dundalk since May 2021 and sees the Lilywhites drop to sixth in the SSE Airtricity Men’s Premier Division table.
O’Donnell made three changes to the side that was beaten by Shamrock Rovers seven days earlier with Hayden Muller, Ryan O’Kane and Johannes Yli-Kokko all restored to the starting XI.
With Patrick Hoban and Cami Elliott still sidelined with injuries, John Martin led the line again and he saw an early seventh-minute header from a Connor Malley corner blocked on the line by Max Mata.
Malley turned provider again four minutes later, picking the pocket of Frank Livak to set O’Kane away but his vicious left-footed drive was well tipped over by Luke McNicholas.
That bright start was undone in the 16th minute when Will Fitzgerald found space on the left and his low ball across the face of the goal was turned home by Mata for his sixth goal of the season.
Niall Morahan had a good opportunity to double Sligo’s lead but he dragged his volley wide of Shepperd’s left-hand post and after taking some time to get going again, Dundalk upped the tempo and Archie Davies forced McNicholas into another fine stop with 32 minutes on the clock.
It looked like the visitors would get to the break in front but Rayhaan Tulloch’s sensational bit of skill in the 44th minute drew a foul from John Mahon in the penalty area and after McNicholas saved the winger’s spot kick, Tulloch followed up with the rebound to restore parity at the interval.
HT: Dundalk FC 1-1 Sligo Rovers
Both sides wrestled for control in the second period and Sligo full-back Reece Hutchinson was the most relieved man in Oriel Park when he almost a Darragh Leahy cross into his own net only to see the ball clear the upright.
Malley then showed great feet to get into a good position on the inside left of the Sligo box but just as he was about to pull the trigger, John Mahon got a vital toe to the ball and did enough to force the midfielder’s effort off target.
John Russell’s side carried more of a threat going forward and Frank Livak cut in from the right to shoot straight at Shepperd before there was another scare for Dundalk in the 81st minute when Fitzgerald glanced a Kailin Barlow corner across goal and wide.
A point apiece looked on the cards but the home supporters were left stunned in the final minute of the regulation 90 when Radosavljevic, who came off the bench 22 minutes earlier, punished Dundalk’s sloppiness with the winner after another substitute, Greg Bolger, hunted Lewis down in a dangerous area just outside the Dundalk box.
FT: Dundalk FC 1-2 Sligo Rovers
DUNDALK FC: Nathan Shepperd, Archie Davies, Hayden Muller, Andy Boyle, Darragh Leahy, Johannes Yli-Kokko (Greg Sloggett 61), Alfie Lewis, Connor Malley, Rayhaan Tulloch (Robbie McCourt 84), Ryan O’Kane (Daniel Kelly 61), John Martin. Subs not used: Wasiri Williams, Eoin Kenny, Anthony Moyo, Peter Cherrie (GK), Mark Byrne (GK).
SLIGO ROVERS: Luke McNicholas, Frank Liivak, John Mahon, Nando Pijnaker, Reece Hutchinson, Lukas Browning Lagerfeldt, Niall Morahan (Greg Bolger 77), Fabrice Hartmann (Kailin Barlow 77), Bogdan Vastsuk (Stefan Radosavljevic 68), Will Fitzgerald, Max Mata. Subs not used: Richard Brush (GK), Daniel Lafferty, James Finnerty, David Cawley, Eanna Clancy, Owen Elding
REFEREE: Damien MacGraith.