Updated: 30/07/17 : 06:20:35
Printable Version   Bookmark and Share Share This


Sligo Rovers most satisfying result of the season

Comment: Eugene McGloin

OVER 1,700 fans saw Sligo Rovers secure its most satisfying result of the 2017 season in the Showgrounds last night, Saturday.

The 1-1 draw with current champions Dundalk does not lift them clear of the relegation zone in the SSE Airtricity League.

But the battling manner of the point won -- and it is a gain  -- left the home fans sweetly satisfied, for once this season, heading home.

'Send them home sweating' was the old showband motto for attracting repeat custom. 

 It was raindrops more than sweat when coming out of the Showgrounds last night but the encounter just ended was certainly 'value for money.'

Booed Referee

Before they left the home fans long and loudly booed referee Graham Kelly. 

He didn't have a terribly bad game but he did turn down two first half penalty claims by Sligo Rovers.

Either incident at the Connolly Stand end was hard to call clearly for this spectator, so Monday night's ''Soccer Republic'' will be eagerly awaited on RTÉ.

Kelly also awarded what seemed some 'soft frees' to Dundalk but home crowds always say that, don't they. 

He could hardly be faulted for the game's single yellow card, to Tobi Adebayo-Rowling for a challenge which would have been a certain penalty inside the box. 

That said, Tobi had a storming second half, never put a foot wrong -- we just need to see him forward a bit more often where his pace can draw frees. 

In the meantime  -- and for the first time in months -- Sligo Rovers can now realistically look at escaping relegation.

They gave 110% effort and harassed Dundalk all around the park last night; that particular message from manager Gerard Lyttle has clearly sunk home. 

Lyttle will also have been happy with how the home crowd 'drove' his team on all night.

The game started badly for Sligo and they were one down in only, nine minutes.

Niclas Vemmuland was unmarked as he headed home Michael Duffy's well taken free on the left.

Was there enough here last night to suggest they will win out next Saturday.

This team missed season's regulars Raffaele Cretaro, club captain John Russell and striker Jonah Ayunga last night. 

But stylish commitment all through last night -- in particular from Rhys McCabe, Tobi Adebayo-Rowling and Benny Igiehon -- laid the foundation of a well deserved point.

It was a team performance but pushed to pick a 'man of the match I'd plump for McCabe, withdrawn injured near the end.

McCabe's overall contributor could have turned this over into three points; that would have hardly been deserved but Dundalk neither. 

Body Strength

That great 24th minute equalising strike by Benny Igiehon from inside the right sideline brought the biggest cheer of the night.

Great strike? Hmm. It looked suspiciously like a promising cross into a crowded goalmouth which then struck the inside of Gary Rogers far right post and crossed the line.

It was his first goal for the club and Igiehon, whose body strength can win much more ball, celebrated it like he had just won the lotto.

He could do little wrong afterwards in the eyes of the home crowd. This type of goal in this type of match helps cement that bond, too.

He himself will know he has finally 'arrived' when youngsters start wearing the '31' jersey.

Last night, the on-field reality is that the strong and skilful Igiehon was largely left unsupported as the Bit o' Red battened down the hatches to ensure a merited point.

The tie often lacked any pattern of skills and often resembled a cup tie which nobody wanted to lose. 

Diving Header

Dundalk introduced three subs in the final quarter and thought they'd stolen it  in added time but Mick Leahy's diving header cleared Dane Massey's sideline effort.

They still look a team recovering from the ardours of extra time with Rosenberg in their European tie a fortnight ago.

''Are we there yet, are we there yet,''  you might well ask after last night's deserved breaks against a highly-fancied Dundalk.

No, not there yet; this Sligo Rovers squad remains a work in progress and remains one with serious structural flaws.

In 95 minutes of play last night Sligo Rovers got in less than half a dozen real scoring chances.

It is not enough and in the nine remaining games that HAS to change to have hopes of avoiding the drop down a division.

But the signs are promising and the most recent signings have all been worth their place in the starting eleven.

Six Pointer

Some of the new signings are expected on show when Ballinamallard United come to the Showgrounds.

That friendly fixture with the Fermanagh side takes place on Tuesday, August 1st with kick off at 7.45pm.

Then, on Saturday night next is a certain six-pointer at home to St Patrick's Athletic.

That is a must-win for Sligo Rovers; a point is not likely to be enough at season's end in the SSE Airtricity League.

On last night's evidence, check the odds with Paddy Power for a home win.

Stick a fiver, too, on Benny to hit the 'bullseye' and take home the match ball before this season ends.