Sligo boss Paul Cook was head chef on Friday night, guiding his side to a comfortable 3-0 victory over Mick Cooke’s poor Drogheda United side in Hunky Dorys Park. Eoin Doyle netted twice, bringing his tally to five in two games, as the Bit O’ Red march on in their impressive run of form.
Sligo, who were unchanged from their mid week win over Bray Wanderers, certainly began the better with early chances coming from Daryl Horgan and Alan Kirby. Alan Keane should have opened the scoring for the Bit O’ Red when his shot from inside the box was impressively palmed away by Steven Trimble. At this point Drogheda were struggling to gain possession, never mind threaten the oppositions goal.
However, United began to make their way into the tie when Philip Hand unleashed a volley on 20 minutes. The full back pounced on some indecisive defending to whip his left boot at the ball which missed Ciaran Kelly’s net by inches. Whilst Rovers were still on top, the game had at least become a contest, much to the delight of the home supporters.
But Sligo’s breakthrough came on 27 minutes, with Eoin Doyle’s fourth goal in two games. Iarfhlaith Davoren managed to skillfully dismiss a number of Drogheda challenges before playing an inch perfect pass to Doyle, who had the simple task of slotting home from five yards out. Things were looking bleak for the side at the foot of the table.
Doyle had the next chance of note ten minutes later, with the intervening period containing little in the way of genuine opportunities. The striker latched on to the end of Aaron Greene’s cross, although he couldn’t leap high enough to direct his header on target. Rovers were on top of everything, and bar the odd respite, were submitting the likes of Ekanem and McNally in the home defence to a lot of pressure.
But the half time break came and went with Rovers still leading by a single goal, as Drogheda continued their search for a decent spell of possession. Darragh McNamara received a yellow card within the opening four minutes of the restart, following his tackle on Gavin Peers. Richie Ryan then welcomed Drogheda ‘keeper Stephen Trimble back into the game with a shot from outside the box that clattered against the cross bar.
Daryl Horgan was extremely impressive on the wing, making flourishing runs that continually caused concern for the home defence. The midfielder was then forced to make way just past the hour mark, a potential concern for his manager as the midfielder was proving influential on the wing.
As the second half progressed the game became an affair with little entertainment although Doyle did spark into life with a shot on 71 minutes when he was put through on goal thanks to a ball from John Russell. However, the striker could do no more than guide his effort on to the legs of the on rushing Trimble. A decent travelling Sligo crowd continued to make the majority of noise in a cold Hunky Dorys Park.
The game was all but put to bed on 75 minutes, when substitute John Dillon rose above the Drogheda defence to head home iarfhlaith Davoren’s excellent back post cross. Then Joseph Ndo offered the crowd a glimpse of pure class to chip the ball over Mark Nolan before running on to his own ball. Ndo then put in Doyle who was just off the target with his shot.
Doyle proceeded to make amends when he scored his second of the night on 79 minutes. The striker was unchallenged as he latched on to Keane’s excellent delivery. His header was perfectly aimed into the bottom corner of the net, leaving Rovers hot on the heels of division leaders Shamrock Rovers thanks to another impressive three points.
As the final score suggests, Sligo thoroughly deserved their three points. They were disciplined in their approach, and completely dominated the 90 minutes. Drogheda struggled throughout, and are in need of something special to change their fortunes. With the league beginning to really heat up, Sligo boss Paul Cook and Eoin Doyle look to be a combination ready to challenge for top spot.
Drogheda United: Steven Trimble; Mark Nolan, Philip Hand, Alan McNally, Victor Ekanem; Brian Gannon, Cillian Thompson (Robbie Gaul, 61), David Freeman, Darragh McNamara (Colin O’Brien, 79); Darragh Hanaphy, Daniel Corcoran.
Subs not used: David Quirke, Sean Skelly, Mark O’Brien, Stephen McCrossan, Stephen Quigley.
Bookings: McNamara (48).
Sligo Rovers: Ciaran Kelly; Iarfhlaith Davoren, Gavin Peers, Jason McGuinness, Alan Keane; John Russell, Richie Ryan, Alan Kirby, Daryl Horgan (John Dillon, 64); Aaron Greene (Joseph Ndo, 67), Eoin Doyle (Raffaele Cretaro, 81).
Subs not used: Brendan Clarke, Mark McGoldrick, Derek Foran, Danny Ventre.
Referee: Neil Doyle.
Attendance: 400 (estimate).
Extratime Man of the Match: Eoin Doyle.