Ronan McNamara reports from Dalymount Park
Sligo Rovers' bench proved crucial as late goals from substitutes Mark Byrne and David Cawley gave the Bit O'Red all three points against Bohemians in a pulsating encounter at Dalymount.
Liam Burt had cancelled out Jordan Gibson’s stunning opener for Sligo with a peach of his own, but Rovers made Bohs pay for their wastefulness in front of goal as Byrne and another stunner from Cawley saw the Bit O’Red romp to a 3-1 win.
The opening half began like a house on fire with both sides spurning early opportunities to open the scoring.
Georgie Kelly should have put Bohs in front after four minutes when he pounced on Colm Horgan’s short back pass. The former Dundalk marksman couldn’t take advantage and Ed McGinty saved rather comfortably from 12 yards.
Sligo should have gone ahead themselves when Johnny Kenny was one-on-one with James Talbot but couldn’t beat the Bohs stopper from close range.
Kenny came close again to breaking the deadlock when he was played through by Greg Bolger. The 17-year-old’s deflected effort from the right of the Gypsies area, rattled the cross bar with Talbot rooted to his spot.
The first half became rather scrappy after that. Jack Moylan had a half chance for Bohs when Anto Breslin stood the ball up from the end line but the winger couldn’t generate any power as he came charging in at the back post.
The Bit O’Red broke the deadlock with a goal worthy of Super League status. Romeo Parkes stormed through the Bohs midfield on the counter attack, he combined with Kenny before flicking the ball across for the impressive Gibson. He let fly with a stunning low volley to Talbot’s left. A quite brilliant team goal worthy of winning any game at any level.
The ball just wouldn’t fall for Bohs in the final third; they caused the Bit O’Red plenty of problems through Liam Burt, Ross Tierney and co but were unable to create an opening to really test McGinty.
Barely two minutes after the restart, Burt cut in from the left-hand side and curled a beauty into the top corner to level the game.
Kelly should have turned the game on it’s head but he couldn’t glance Conor Levingston’s free kick on target from six yards.
Sligo came into the game in the last quarter and Byrne marked his introduction from the bench with a goal. He got on the end of Kenny’s clever headed flick and calmly slotted the ball home to put the visitors back in front.
Keith Ward missed a golden opportunity to level as he skewed wide with the goal at his mercy from 12 yards after McGinty had saved Breslin’s effort.
The Bit O’Red put the game to bed with four minutes of normal time remaining. Substitute Cawley received the ball with his back to goal on the left of the box. He turned and let fly with a rocket into the top corner to put the game beyond Bohs.
Bohemians: James Talbot; Ciaran Kelly, Rory Feely, Rob Cornwall (c), Anto Breslin; Conor Levingston (Ali Coote 80), Dawson Devoy, Liam Burt, Jack Moylan, Ross Tierney (Keith Ward 80); Georgie Kelly (Promise Omochere 71).
Subs not used: Stephen McGuinness, Andy Lyons, James Finnerty, Robert Mahon, Thomas Oluwa, Tyreke Wilson.
Sligo Rovers: Edward McGinty; Garry Buckley, Colm Horgan (Lewis Banks 85), John Mahon, Robbie McCourt; Jordan Gibson, Greg Bolger (c), Niall Morahan; Walter Figueira (Mark Byrne 59), Johnny Kenny, Romeo Parkes.
Subs not used: Regan Donelon, Ryan De Vries, Darren Collins, David Cawley, Richard Brush, Scott Lynch, Peter Maguire.
Booked: Robbie McCourt (15) ,Colm Horgan (55), Greg Bolger (65), Johnny Kenny (90).
Referee: Ben Connolly
ExtraTime.ie Player of the Match: Jordan Gibson (Sligo Rovers)