Ian Brennan reports from Finn Park
Sligo Rovers emerged victorious from the north-west derby game against Finn Harps with a 2-1 victory at Finn Park.
Liam Buckley’s first win as Sligo manager came after a hard-fought match between two sides that were yet to register a win so far this season.
A first Sligo goal for Romeo Parkes and second from Kris Twardek sent the Bit o’ Red on their way before defender Daniel O’Reilly pulled one back for the home side.
Sligo were forced into a change before kick-off as goalkeeper Ed McGinty was replaced by Mitchell Beeney from the start.
Kick-off itself was delayed by five minutes after one of the linesmen picked up a knock in the warm up after colliding with a Sligo player.
Harps started the game brighter, with John Kavanagh having the first shot on target after meeting Raffaele Cretaro’s cross, but his header was easily gathered by Beeney in goal.
After the first couple of exchanges, however, Sligo started to settle into the game while Harps’ passing, especially in the final third, let them down.
Sligo had the first clear cut chance of the match as Ronan Murray delivered an excellent ball into the harps box from a freekick to find Parkes unmarked on the penalty spot.
Parkes would mistime his header on this occasion, but another chance presented itself ten minutes later when the Harps defence were caught high up the pitch.
The Sligo forward chased after a ball forward and managed to get to it before a hesitant Peter Burke in the Finn Harps goal and rounded the keeper to give Sligo the lead.
Just before Sligo took the lead they lost their captain Kyle McFadden through injury, with Sam Warde taking his place and Ronan Murray taking on the captaincy.
Harps looked dangerous at times in the first half but ultimately there seemed to be a lack of communication between the front two of Sean Boyd and Nathan Boyle.
Ollie Horgan’s men displayed poor passing as they needlessly gave the ball away to Sligo multiple times during the first half, with the final ball being especially disappointing.
The second half started where the first half left off, with Sligo playing the better football and they got their reward just three minutes into the second half.
After a good Burke save from Murray’s shot, Murray again delivered a good corner onto the head of Twardek, whose header took a deflection on it’s way past Burke to make it 2-0 to the Bit o Red.
The introduction of Caolan McAleer against the side he played for last year was the catalyst for change Harps needed.
McAleer’s corner just seconds after he came on provided O’ Reilly with the chance to get a goal back, which he duly took.
From there Harps started growing into the game more and more and started applying more pressure on the Sligo defence.
This added intensity to the match meant that discipline took a back seat, especially for the home side.
Four Harps players went into Derek Tomney’s book compared to two for Sligo. Most of these bookings took place in the second half as Harps’ frustration at not getting an equaliser started to take its toll.
McAleer in particular when he came on was a target for both fans and player of Sligo and at times he let his frustration get the better of him.
Sligo started to sit back as the second half went on and looked to hit Harps on the counter. Yet another fantastic Murray delivery found Parkes but the forward header over.
In the final ten minutes of the game it was mostly Harps doing the attacking, pinning Sligo into their own half.
It wasn’t to be, however, and Horgan’s side will be disappointed with their overall performance as their search for a first win of the season continues away to Shamrock Rovers in midweek.
Sligo, on the other hand delivered on the promise they had shown in the previous few matches and will look to keep this momentum going against UCD at home next Friday.
Finn Harps: Peter Burke; John Kavanagh, Jacob Borg, Keith Cowan, Gareth Harkin, Daniel O’ Reilly; Mark Coyle (Niall McGinley 83), Mark Russell (Caolan McAleer 54), Raffaele Cretaro; Sean Boyd (Mikey Place 78), Nathan Boyle.
Subs not used: Ciaran Gallagher (gk), Colm Deasy, Liam Walsh, Tony McNamee
Booked: Jacob Borg (12), Mark Coyle (56), Caolan McAleer (90+1), Daniel O’ Reilly (90+4).
Sligo Rovers: Mitchell Beeney; Lewis Banks, Kyle McFadden (Sam Warde 24), Dante Leverock, Kris Twardeck; Ronan Murray (Daryl Fordyce 90+3), Jack Keaney (David Cawley 86), John Mahon, Niall Morahan, Liam Kerrigan; Romeo Parkes.
Subs not used: John Russell, Darren Collins, Scott Lynch.
Booked: John Mahon (35), Jack Keaney (35).
Referee: Derek Tomney
Extratime.ie Player of the Match: Ronan Murray (Sligo Rovers).