Drogheda United 2 Sligo Rovers 3
Anthony Elding scored a remarkable winner deep in stoppage time, as Sligo Rovers lifted the FAI Ford Cup for the third time in four years in another thrilling decider before a crowd of 17,573 at the Aviva Stadium.
The better side for much of the game, Drogheda deservedly led from Paul O’Conor’s early goal.
The real drama came late on, though, as substitute Danny North scored twice in the 78th and 86th minutes to appear to have won it for Sligo as Drogheda had skipper Derek Prendergast sent off.
But Ryan Brennan levelled it at 2-2 two minutes into the eighth minute of additional time.
There was still a telling twist, though, as Sligo came back again to clinch it through Elding in the 94th minute.
Drogheda settled the better with the touch and guile of Ryan Brennan instrumental in their lead goal on 13 minutes.
Brennan nutmegging a white shirt to feed David Cassidy on the left. He in turn played Shane Grimes in on the overlap to cross low for midfielder O’Conor to confidently side-foot to the roof of the net.
Sligo thought they'd levelled from a terrific move on 37 minutes. Kieran Djilali put his skipper Danny Ventre in behind the fullback on the left to cross for Elding to head home.
But eagle-eyed assistant referee Michelle O’Neill spotted that the ball had just gone out of play and flagged to disallow the goal.
Sligo looked to have more impetuous on the resumption, but struggled to create chances and it was Drogheda who thought they’d scored again on 64 minutes.
Ryan Brennan’s diagonal dink found the head of brother Gavin to put the ball in the net, but the winger had leaned on fullback Alan Keane and the goal was disallowed.
Some frantic defending then saved Sligo on 72 minutes. First, Ryan Brennan’s low shot from Cassidy’s free kick was blocked. Elding was then well positioned on a post to clear off the line from Mick Daly’s follow-up header.
Sligo pressed frantically as the game wore on and they duly equalised from their first sustained pressure of the match on 78 minutes. Joseph Ndo whipped over a third successive corner. Elding’s header came off the chest of Drogheda midfielder Alan Byrne to sit up nicely for North to hook home at the far post.
Six minutes later, North was there again to sneak in behind the defensive wall to rifle to the net after Ndo had cleverly flicked a free kick over it.
Drogheda protested that referee Paul Tuite hadn’t blown his whistle for the free to be taken with Prendergast sent off for incurring a second booking for dissent.
Sligo also went down to ten men when they then lost defender Gavin Peers to injury before Ryan Brennan latched onto Cassidy’s ball over the top to run through and shoot low past Rogers for a Drogheda equaliser two minutes into stoppage time.
But the drama simply continued. Two minutes later Djilali got free on the right to cross with man-of-the-match North chesting the ball down for Elding to blast home a left foot winner.