MATCH REPORT: SLIGO RECORD WIN AT THOMOND PARK
Paul O’Conor’s third-minute opener set Sligo Rovers on the road to victory and they added two late goals to record a 3-0 win over Limerick at Thomond Park on Friday night.
Limerick started well and had early efforts from Jason Hughes and Stephen Folan before Sligo stunned them with a third-minute strike, Paul O’Conor left with the simplest of tasks to finish Kieran Djilali’s centre.
Robbie Williams had a penalty claim dismissed as he was instead cautioned for simulation after going down in the box on ten minutes, before Samuel Oji headed over from close range.
Before the midway point of the first half, Sligo went close to a second when Aaron Greene broke away but his shot was blocked by Shane Cusack’s foot and Hughes’ superb tracking back denied O’Conor another easy goal.
Shortly after, Greene perhaps should have made it two when Ross Gaynor and O’Conor set him up but Cusack denied him brilliantly. Rory Gaffney and Greene then went close again.
Early in the second half, Djilali met Alan Keane’s cross but his volley went wide. Limerick thought they had levelled on 66 minutes when, after some ping-pong, Folan smashed to the net, but the goal was ruled out for handball in the build-up.
Gaffney was denied by a fine Gary Rogers save nine minutes from time. Late on, Greene could have added wrapped it up for Sligo before he eventually did with a breakaway goal on 89 minutes, and then substitute Séamus Conneely made it three at the death.
Manager Stuart Taylor made four changes to the team that lined out in the draw against Derry City four days earlier. Out went Barry Ryan through illness and Shaun Kelly through injury along with Prince Agyemang and Ross Mann.
In came Patrick Nzuzi, who returned from suspension, along with Cusack, Darragh Rainsford and James McGrath.
Before the game, there was a minute’s silence for Tito Vilanova, the former Barcelona manager who sadly passed away after a long battle with cancer. The silence was at the request of Chairman Pat O’Sullivan after the support that Tito and his colleagues at FC Barcelona have shown Limerick in recent years.
Limerick started brightly and raided down the right through Rainsford in the opening seconds, earning a corner. From Shane Tracy’s first delivery, the ball came out to Hughes whose shot was deflected behind. Tracy’s next set-piece was headed over by Folan.
But Sligo hit the front just moments later when Djilali beat Williams at the by-line and squared to the in-rushing O’Conor who could not miss an open goal. Then the strong wind carried David Cawley’s effort from distance over.
On ten minutes, Williams went down in the box but he was alleged to have dived and earned himself a yellow card which rules him out of the trip to Bray Wanderers on Friday 9 May.
Before the quarter-hour, Tracy’s free-kick into the box came to Shane Duggan and his cross hit the ground and bounced up for Oji who headed over from eight-yards.
On 21 minutes, Sligo went close to doubling their advantage when Greene broke away, racing into the box and forcing a good save from Cusack who blocked with his foot. The ball ran across goal but Hughes tracked back brilliantly to deny O’Conor a tap-in.
On 28 minutes, excellent build-up play involving Gaynor and O’Conor presented Greene with a golden chance to make it 2-0 but Cusack produced an even better stop this time around as he deflected the Dubliner’s shot from inside the box over.
Past the half-hour, Gaffney got down the right and drifted into the box, passing a defender before firing an effort into the side-netting. At the other end, John Russell’s cross hit Greene and flashed past the post.
From then to the break, it was quiet, but on 52 minutes Keane’s cross from the right was met on the volley by Djilali in the box, a decent effort swerving away from the target.
Midway through the half, Limerick thought they had equalised when, after good pressure from the hosts, Folan smashed the ball to the net. But the linesman on the far side flagged for handball in the build-up in the box.
Limerick were putting plenty of stress on the visiting defence but Sligo were also looking dangerous on the break. On 81 minutes, Gaffney forced a fine save from Rogers with a dipping 20-yard that the ‘keeper tipped over.
Late on, Greene fired over, and then the former Bohemians man was left in on goal after the referee failed to award a clear free-kick to Tracy, with the forward rounding the ‘keeper and finishing to the net. Deep in injury-time, Conneely added a third.
Limerick: Shane Cusack, Patrick Nzuzi, Samuel Oji, Stephen Folan, Robbie Williams, Shane Tracy, Shane Duggan ©, Jason Hughes, Darragh Rainsford (Tam McManus 60), James McGrath (Ross Mann 77), Rory Gaffney. Booked: R Williams (10), R Gaffney (79). Unused Subs: Ali Abass (GK), Prince Agyemang, Colm Murphy, Tony Whitehead, Shane Walsh.
Sligo Rovers: Gary Rogers, Alan Keane ©, Evan McMillan, Jeff Henderson, Danny Ledwith (Danny North 75), Kieran Djilali (Séamus Conneely 80), David Cawley, Paul O’Conor, John Russell, Ross Gaynor, Aaron Greene. Goals: P O’Conor (3), A Greene (89), S Conneely (90+3). Booked: D Cawley (72). Unused Subs: Richard Brush (GK), Seán Maguire, Kalen Spillane, Eric Odhiambo, Jake Dykes.
Referee: Seán Grant (Wexford). Attendance: 819 (Official).
Report Date: Friday 25 April 2014