Dundalk close gap on Cork to a point with dramatic late winner

Dundalk 2 Sligo Rovers 1

Patrick Hoban headed a dramatic winner two minutes from time to earn Dundalk a potentially huge victory in this year’s title race.

Stephen Kenny’s side looked like being frustrated by Sligo Rovers at Oriel Park last night but the Galway man ensured they got back to winning ways by heading home Dane Massey’s cross on 88 minutes.

It was a devastating blow for Ger Lyttle’s side who had fought back from the concession of an early penalty, scored by Hoban, to draw level in first half stoppage time with one of their own from Rhys McCabe.

However, the home side’s persistence won out as they closed the gap on leaders Cork City to a single point.

All the early pressure was from the home side with Mitchell Beeney having to tip a Brian Gartland volley over his over before denying Hoban soon after.

Within two minutes Dundalk had a penalty at the other end. Dylan Connolly’s cross towards Hoban was cut out by Kyle Callan-McFadden but the winger seized on the loose ball ahead of Patrick McClean, who tripped him in his attempt to get there. That allowed Hoban to step up to slam home his 10th goal of the season from the spot.

The home side failed to build on this advantage though with Sligo doing most of the pressing for the remainder of the half. Gary Boylan forced Gary Rogers to turn a shot around his post on 26 minutes before the visitors passed up a big chance three minutes later when a corner broke to Greg Moorhouse, whose shot was deflected just wide off Chris Shields.

Right on the stroke of half-time the Bit O Red had a big penalty shout turned away. McCabe’s ball forward saw Caolan McAleer race in behind the home defence. Rogers came off his line to punch clear but flattened the former Finn Harps man in the process.

Referee Tom Connolly failed to give that decision but he did point to the spot in the second minute of injury time after some calamitous defending from Dundalk. A poor ball across his back line by Sean Hoare saw Stephen Folan attempt to head back to his keeper but it was short, allowing McAleer to nip in where he was upended by Rogers. McCabe then stepped up to slam home the penalty to leave it 1-1 at the break.

Dundalk pushed for a lead goal right from the restart with Duffy heading wide from Hoare’s cross Ronan Murray missed a sitter on the hour mark when he side-footed wide after being teed up by Robbie Benson.

Beeney then denied substitute Jamie McGrath with 15 minutes to go before Connolly blazed over after being picked out by Massey’s cross in the closing minutes.

It looked like the visitor would hang on until two minutes from the end when Hoban flicked on Massey’s cross to win the game.

Dundalk: Rogers; Hoare, Gartland, Folan (Massey 56), Jarvis; Shields (Tagbajumi 79), Benson; Connolly, Murray (McGrath 66), Duffy; Hoban.

Sligo Rovers: Beeney; Boylan, Callan-McFadden, Mahon, McClean (Keaney 42), Donelon; McAleer, Cawley, McCabe, Cretaro (Wixted 67); Moorhouse (Morgan 59).

Referee: Tom Connolly (Dublin).


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