Shamrock Rovers continue early-season surge

Shamrock Rovers' early-season surge continued at The Showgrounds on Saturday night when they defeated an understrength Sligo Rovers 3-2.

Shamrock Rovers continue early-season surge

SSE Airtricity League Premier Division

Sligo Rovers 2 Shamrock Rovers 3

Shamrock Rovers' early-season surge continued at The Showgrounds on Saturday night when they defeated an understrength Sligo Rovers 3-2.

The Hoops, already favourites to dethrone champions Dundalk, extended their lead at the top of the Premier Division to three points thanks to goals from talisman Jack Byrne, Aaron McEneff, and ex-Sligo player Aaron Greene.

The hosts stifled Rovers somewhat after Byrne's 23rd-minute classy finish and Ronan Coughlan's well-struck penalty after 41 minutes ensured parity at the break.

Coughlan's spot-kick was Sligo's first goal after failing to score in their three previous games, all defeats.

But two goals in the last 15 minutes from McEneff and Greene, both from polished build-up play, put Rovers on course for their fifth win in five games.

Neil Farrugia, operating at wing-back, impressed for the winners.

Bottom of the table Sligo, forced into a defensive reshuffle that saw former Cork star Garry Buckley fill in admirably at centre-back, notched a fine consolation goal in stoppage time when Niall Morahan scored.

This result was Stephen Bradley's first victory in Sligo as a manager and he reckoned the outcome was merited.

He said: “I thought we should have been a couple of goals up in the first half, given the chances we had.

“Overall, I thought we were comfortable and we deserved to win.”

For Sligo boss Liam Buckley the search for a first win of 2020 goes on as does their injury woes – they were missing five defenders for Saturday's game and another, Teemu Penninkangas, went off with a first-half knock.

Sligo Rovers: McGinty; Morahan, Callan-McFadden, Penninkangas (De Vries 22), Cooper, Devers, Seymore, Cawley, Noone (Murray 79); Buckley; Coughlan

Shamrock Rovers: Mannus; Finn, Lopes, Grace, Scales, Farrugia (Lafferty 84); Bolger (O’Neill 75), McEneff; Byrne, Gaffney (Watts 69), Greene

Referee: Paul McLaughlin

Attendance: 2,342

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