Updated: 06/08/17 : 09:39:35
Printable Version   Bookmark and Share Share This


Sligo Rovers fall far short in 'six pointer'

Fan Viewpoint: Eugene McGloin

SLIGO ROVERS learned two things and maybe need to do two things after the 1-1 draw with St Patrick's Athletic in the Showgrounds last night, Saturday.

Firstly, they learned they may not be good good enough for the premier flight of Irish domestic league soccer.

Secondly, they learned they will probably -- now more likely -- be relegated when when the season ends in eight weeks.

Minutes Silence

They will have no excuses; a crowd of 1,788 willed them on last night 'to be the best they could be' and to stay in the top division of the SSE Airtricity League in 2018.

They stood for a minutes silence before the game for the late Paddy McLoughlin.

He was popular older brother of Sligo Rovers first-ever Cup winning scorer, Harry McLoughlin, in 1983 in Dalymount Park. 

No Pattern

Meanwhile, the math says, yes, Sligo Rovers can still survive....and with a bit to spare, too.

But there was NO such evidence on offer in the Showgrounds last night.

This was the opposite of the spirited team performance at the same venue just seven days earlier against current champs Dundalk.

No individual performance either last night deserved a Man of the Match accolade.

The nearest maybe was Benny Igiehon, who tried valiantly for seventy minutes.

He won a lot of 50/50 ball in the air despite the close attention of Kilian Brennan and even turned provider to send a sublime first half cross on the left to the far post.

There was nobody there and that one image, in a nutshell, was the sorrowful summing of this entire outing.

There was no pattern to anything Rovers attempted. The worst example was THREE players free to go on the right when the score was balanced at 1-1.

 But there were no (audible) calls by A-N-Y of the three free players.

Driving Spirits

The match programme included the name of Gavin Peers in the St Patrick's squad.

How Sligo Rovers would have loved the return of the Peers of old, one of the driving spirits of so many Showgrounds successes earlier this decade.

Last night's opponents knew glory days, too, earlier this decade. 

It was clear all through last night they had come for three points to bounce them safely clear of the relegation dogfight.

Crossbar Screamer

St Pats also produced the couple of flashes which (briefly) lit up this match.

Christy Fagan clipped the crossbar as early as the 20th minute. 

Conan Byrne cannoned a screamer off the crossbar in the 70th minute. 

It would have been a wonder goal and shortly to follow was a reprise of that moment of magic.

His namesake and substitute Kurtis Byrne was barely on the field when he fired an unstoppable equaliser high past Schlingermann's left at the Connolly Stand end in the 72nd minute. 1-1.

Nothing up to then suggested how Sligo Rovers could rescue this one.

All night Benny Igiehon was left to forage alone up front; players came too late in support or never came at all.

That, and the senseless kicking out of the ball by the keeper Michael Schlingermannn -- which, in most cases , saw a 'turn over' of possession.

Irony of irony, two great chances fell to Igiehon in those final twenty minutes of last night's game.

He took neither; the worst he might have done was won a penalty but choose instead to tamely hit against advancing Pats keeper Conor O'Malley when clean through.

Then Igiehon' shot was parried by O'Malley into the path of Sligo's new signing Vinnie Faherty but he failed to connect with all three points a-begging.

Shock, Awe

Rovers learned two things and also need to maybe do two things now.

They could study some videos of how Gaelic football is played by top teams.

The idiotic immediate concession of kicked out ball by Sligo Rovers all season is.....well, idiotic.

GAA videos of amateur athletes in Dublin, Donegal, Tyrone, Mayo even, have so much to TEACH this team -- on kick outs, possession, players arriving in support in numbers.

Team? That's the other issue which was too evident last night, when all the new signings played (individually) for the first time in a competitive senior team.

None was overly impressive, although Jamie McDonagh looked the best of the three.

Greg Moorhouse looked well off the pace of the game for most of his time on the park but he did pick up an early knock.

Later on Moorhouse was sensibly substituted after picking up a head injury. 

Meanwhile, sessions with a sports psychologist might gel these players -- belief, unity of purpose and all that. It all seemed so, so absent last night.

The team Sligo Rovers offered spectators last night did NOT know how to win.

When it went ahead, it still INVITED St Pats to 'come on' to them rather than strike out with shock 'n' awe, or a scaled down Sligo version of i t anyway.

No Cigar

Very few time-segments of the game were dominated by Sligo Rovers.

Interestingly, Sligo Rovers looked at their sharpest late on last night when there was an urgency about trying to restore the lead.

That lead had come with a spectacular bustling connection by Kyle Callan-McFadden from a corner on the right in the 33rd minute.

It had been a lucky second corner -- Regan Donelon's poorly hit first attempt had been (too) hastily pushed behind by the visitors.

Sligo Rovers looked, too, like they had taken when a superb Rhys McCabe free kick just outside the penalty area was equally superbly pushed away by Conor O'Malley.

Draw Specialists

This was a must-win 'six pointer.' It is not even a case of  'close but no cigar' this Sunday morning. Sligo Rovers showed no urgency last night. 

Sligo, the draw specialists with 12 draws and just four wins this 2017 season, got just that last night, a draw instead of a (necessary) win.

They are now a whole win off the safety zone BUT that may not be enough either.

Goal difference could well decide the final team to drop down a division in October.

This Sunday morning Sligo are on minus fifteen with twenty four points. They remain locked in 11th place in a 12-club SSE Airtricity League.

They must now WIN games as it seems highly unlikely they can improve that goal difference.

                             Live Score SSE Airtricity League table 6/8/2017


This team let fans down last night and a lot of what they played lacked pattern.

Some of it was rubbishy; there is no kind way to say that. Fans shouldn't be short-changed by hiding that either. 

One change I'd like to see sooner rather than later is have Tobi Adebayo-Rowling play as an attacking winger, away from where he is now. 

Excursion Train

One likelihood is that this team of full time professionals will now go Longford for the FAI Cup game and net a bag of goals.

Probably....but I'm old enough to have made the February 1969 trip by excursion train in the snow, with David Dunne and the late Jack Hanney, to the same town.

Expected the same result then as now, namely a bag of goals, but watched instead one of the big FÁI Cup shocks of all time as the (then) non League part timers beat the pros 2-0.

Only Hope

The pitch that day because of the snow was marked in part in shades of pink. 

The Bit o' Red know they need to avoid any repeat of that red-faced episode. 

The Daily Mail FÁI Cup represents Rovers only hope of seeing the return of European football to the Showgrounds for the foreseeable future. They now need to grab it.

Sligo Rovers: Micheál Schlingermann, Tobi Adebayo-Rowling, Mick Leahy, Kyle Callan-McFadden, Regan Donelon, Craig Roddan, Daniel Kearns, Rhys McCabe, John Russell, Greg Moorhouse and Benny Igiehon.

Raffaele Cretaro for Daniel Kearns 36th minute; Jamie McDonagh for Greg Moorhouse 53rd minute; Vinny Faherty for Craig Roddan 77th minute.