Report: Sligo Rovers 1-0 Dundalk (Kirby 55)
Alan Kirby’s 55th-minute strike ended Dundalk’s eight-match unbeaten run in the league as they suffered a 1-0 defeat by Sligo Rovers at The Showgrounds on Monday evening, as their fine run of clean-sheets also came to a halt. Sligo had held most of the possession in the opening half without seriously testing Peter Cherrie, the best chance coming through Dundalk’s own defensive mistake as the Scottish No1’s sliced clearance almost fell to John Russell. Jason McGuinness and Eoin Doyle threatened early in the second half before Kirby eventually found the net, although the Lilywhites could have snatched a point late on but Michael Hector was somehow denied by Brendan Clarke.
Dundalk manager Ian Foster made two changes to the side that beat Derry City four days earlier as the suspended Daniel Kearns and injured Greg Bolger were replaced by Ross Gaynor, who returned following a one-match ban, and Shane Guthrie. Guthrie, as usual, slotted in beside Colin Hawkins at the centre of defence, with Hector, like the Bohemians game three weeks earlier, going into midfield, this time alongside Dean Bennett. Chances were rare in the opening exchanges, with Joseph Ndo’s early acrobatic effort going well wide of the target. Ndo was then subbed past the quarter-hour mark, before McGuinness headed over after rising to meet a John Dillon corner. At the other end, good play by Mark Griffin forced a free-kick in the ‘D’ but Keith Ward got his effort all wrong.
Before the midway point of the half, Simon Madden played the ball back to Cherrie who sliced his clearance, though, luckily for Dundalk, it fell behind Russell. The former Galway United midfielder, who replaced Ndo, rolled it back to Kirby but his drilled shot from the edge of the box swerved wide of goal. Moments later, Dillon’s cross deflected off Madden and onto the top of the crossbar, though the ball had already gone out of play. At the other end, Gaynor’s dangerous delivery was headed behind at the back post by Doyle. Five minutes before the break, Kirby’s delivery from the left was met at the back post by Aaron Greene, the striker heading back across goal but the effort going off target. Before the break, Ward fed Quigley out on the left and his low cross was cut out well by Gavin Peers with Griffin ready to pounce.
On 49 minutes, Sligo went within inches of taking the lead when Alan Keane’s cross from the right was met by a glancing header from Doyle who narrowly missed the far corner, Cherrie glad to see it go the wrong side of the post. Four minutes later, McGuinness was at the back post to meet Richie Ryan’s corner but the post kept Dundalk on level terms, before Quigley won a free-out to relieve the pressure. Sligo did hit the front, however, on 55 minutes when the ball fell invitingly to Kirby just inside the box and he drilled to the net. The advantage could have been doubled shortly after when Doyle found himself in on the left of the box but Cherrie got down to save the low shot. On 66 minutes, Quigley tried to get his side back into it with another spectacular strike, a low 30-yard drive from the 25-year-old forcing Clarke to push behind.
On 71 minutes, Doyle was put clean through but with just Cherrie to beat he dragged his shot wide of the target. Moments later, Peers cut out a cross from Gaynor with Griffin again threatening in the box. Three minutes from time, Dundalk went within inches of levelling when Quigley’s free-kick was blocked into the path of Hector who drilled goalwards from 12-yards but somehow Clarke got down to push the ball around. And with that went Dundalk’s last chance of an equaliser, and they must now look forward to back-to-back home games against Drogheda United and Saint Patrick’s Athletic. First, though, is the visit of out-of-form Galway United in the FAI Ford Cup at Oriel Park next Sunday afternoon.
SLIGO ROVERS FC: Brendan Clarke; Alan Keane, Gavin Peers, Jason McGuinness, Iarfhlaith Davoren; Richie Ryan © (Danny Ventre 69); John Dillon, Joseph Ndo (John Russell 17), Alan Kirby, Eoin Doyle (Raffaele Cretaro 82); Aaron Greene.
Goal: A Kirby (55).
Booked: I Davoren (32).
Unused Subs: Ciarán Kelly (GK), Derek Foran, Daryl Horgan, Matthew Blinkhorn.
DUNDALK FC: Peter Cherrie; Simon Madden ©, Colin Hawkins, Shane Guthrie, Nathan Murphy; Dean Bennett, Michael Hector; Keith Ward, Mark Quigley, Ross Gaynor; Mark Griffin (Johnny Breen 75).
Unused Subs: Paul Murphy (GK), Chris Kerr, Philip Duffy.
Referee: Padraig Sutton (Clare).