A LAST-GASP Danny North strike secured a crucial win for St Patrick’s Athletic over Sligo Rovers in their entertaining Airtricity League Premier Division encounter at the Stadium of Light in Inchicore last night.
The centre-forward received the ball 20 yards from goal and struck an unstoppable drive into the top corner of Ciaran Kelly’s net to continue the Saints’ climb up the table.
The hosts raced out of the traps and opened the scoring inside four minutes, when North intercepted a misplaced pass from John Russell before skipping past a challenge from Jason McGuinness and curling a precise finish inside Kelly’s left-hand post from 20 yards.
With Stephen Bradley prompting, Sligo struggled to find any discernible rhythm as their five-man midfield struggled to feed their prolific lone striker Eoin Doyle, who was well marshalled by Evan McMillan.
St Pat’s, who have built their recent resurgence on a solid defensive platform that had seen them record three consecutive clean sheets, were content to cede territory as the half progressed and consequently, Sligo’s ‘Joseph Ndo and Alan Kirby in particular began enjoying a greater level of control on proceedings.
However, with Daryl Kavanagh a menacing threat at the opposite end, St Patrick’s always looked dangerous on the counter-attack and Bradley was unlucky not to double his side’s advantage when shooting wide after clever interplay with Kavanagh in the 41st minute.
That miss proved costly as Sligo levelled matters four minutes later following an Aaron Greene cross which was diverted by Doyle into the path of the on-rushing Kirby, who side-footed home from eight yards.
There was still time for Doyle to shoot wastefully over the bar from an Ndo corner in injury time as the visitors entered the break very much in the ascendancy.
The second half continued in a similar vein with Sligo and Kirby unlucky not to add a second goal in the 49th minute as his first-time shot under pressure cleared Gary Rogers’ crossbar after a strong run by Greene down his left-wing.
Sligo’s attacking threat petered out to a large degree for the ensuing half an hour, as the match entered a lifeless period with only a couple of harmless long-range shots by Kavanagh lighting up proceedings.
Then North’s sublime strike deep into extra-time snatched victory for a resurgent St Pat’s side.
ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC: Rogers; Harney, Shortall, McMillan, Pender; Murphy (Keegan, 65), Bradley, Crowley (Mulcahy, 88), Doyle; Kavanagh, North.
SLIGO ROVERS: Kelly; Keane, McGuinness, Peers, Davoren; Ndo, Kirby (Ventre, 72), Russell (Horgan, 72), Ryan, Greene; Doyle (Blinkhorn, 81).
Referee: Paul Tuite (Dublin).
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