Sligo book place in FAI Cup final

Updated: Tuesday, 08 Oct 2013 10:10

Sligo Rovers will face Drogheda United in this year's FAI Ford Cup final following a comprehensive 3-0 win over a lacklustre Shamrock Rovers side at the Showgrounds.

A first half strike from Danny Ventre along with an Alan Keane penalty and a late Anthony Elding goal saw Sligo safely through to this year's decider.

The Hoops had Conor McCormack dismissed in the lead up to Keane's spot kick on 73 minutes after he tripped Raffaele Cretaro inside the area.

The home side were without Ross Gaynor (knee), David McMillan (cup-tied) and Gavin Peers who served the first of a two game ban due to an accumulation of yellow cards.

Ian Baraclough made three changes to the side that played out a scoreless draw with Cork City last week with Danny North, Raffaele Cretaro and Danny Ventre all returning to the starting eleven.

Trevor Croly made the journey west for the second time this year without Pat Sullivan who also served a suspension. The Hoops made four changes from last week's 3-0 win over Bray with Conor Powell, Shane Robinson, Thomas Stewart and the in-form Gary McCabe all making starts for the away side.

Played in front of a fantastic atmosphere fitting to any cup semi final, it was the away side who threatened first. But with five minutes elapsed former Sligo player McCabe could only blast his shot from 20 yards high over Gary Rogers' crossbar.

The Bit o'Red were forced to play several minutes of the opening period with ten men after Jeff Henderson was sent to the home side's dressing room for treatment on a head wound following a clash with Robinson. The Tallaght side enjoyed the better of the play during this period and Ronan Finn saw his glancing header sail off target on 18 minutes having been teed up by Ken Oman.

In the seconds following Henderson's return, the Hoops had to rely on the quick thinking of Conor McCormack who hooked away a Kieran Djilali cross which almost sneaked in at the back post.

Sligo were hoping to progress to their fourth cup decider in five years and the league champions took a step in the right direction on 24 minutes when they broke through the middle with Djilali, who found Aaron Green on the left. His initial cross was miss-hit by captain Danny Ventre who, unmarked, had the time and space to blast past Richard Brush at the second attempt for his fourth goal of the season.

The westerners had the chance to double their lead four minutes later when goalscorer Ventre teed up North who, from the angle, failed to beat Brush with a tame effort which was dealt with by the former Sligo goalkeeper with relative ease.

Hoops winger Billy Dennehy should have done better with his shot from the edge of the Sligo box which the Kerryman screwed badly wide of Rogers' post on 43 minutes.

The same player sent his header wide of the target two minutes into injury time at the end of the first half after he latched on to the end of a searching Finn cross from the right. The Dubliners going into the second half with a one goal deficit to claw back.

North tested Brush once more eight minutes into the second half after some good interplay between the former St Pat's man and Cretaro.

Croly withdrew McCabe in place of Mark Quigley on the hour mark in an effort to boost his attacking options.

Dennehy sent his header from the back post wide from a Finn cross from the right following good work from Thomas Stewart down the same side on 63 minutes.

Sligo were then forced to withdraw Henderson two minutes later due to the head injury he sustained in the opening half. Danny Ventre deputised at centre half after David Cawley was introduced in place of the afflicted Henderson.

Cretaro was presented with a great chance with 20 minutes remaining. Joseph Ndo's clever scooped ball over the top found the Tubbercurry man who under the close attention of McCormack fluffed his lines at the vital moment as the ball dribbled harmlessly wide.

Sligo took a huge step towards a berth in the decider on 73 minutes. Ndo's through ball was played perfectly into the path of Cretaro before referee Alan Kelly adjudged McCormack to have tripped the Sligo striker inside the box as he made his way toward goal before dismissing the former Manchester United trainee. Alan Keane then blasted the ball beyond Brush from 12 yards to double the Bit o'Red's lead.

The reigning Setanta Sports Cup holders, clearly frustrated by their lack of clear cut chances in the second half, had their net minder to thank again 12 minutes before the final whistle. On a Sligo counter attack, Djilali played in Greene whose fierce drive was blocked away by Brush.

Late substitute Anthony Elding's acrobatic effort flew over Brush's crossbar on 87 minutes after he was supplied by an inviting Ndo cross from the right.

Then Elding did put the tie beyond doubt on 89 minutes after Quigley inadvertently sent the ball into the path of Greene who searched out Sligo's top scorer in plenty of space. Elding calmly slotted the ball beyond Brush to send the Bit o'Red firmly on their way to November's decider.

Sligo Rovers: Gary Rogers; Alan Keane, Evan McMillan, Jeff Henderson (for David Cawley 65), Iarfhlaith Davoren; Raffaele Cretaro (for Anthony Elding 86), Danny Ventre, Joseph Ndo, Kieran Djilali, Aaron Greene; Danny North (for Seamus Conneely 67).

Subs not used: Ciaran Kelly, Lee Lynch, Pascal Millien, Liam Martin.

Shamrock Rovers: Richard Brush; Conor McCormack, Ken Oman, Jason McGuinness, Conor Powell; Gary McCabe (for Mark Quigley 60), Richie Ryan, Shane Robinson, Ronan Finn (for Karl Sheppard 82), Billy Dennehy (for Sean O'Connor 70); Thomas Stewart.

Subs not used: Barry Murphy, Derek Foran, Stephen Rice, Danny Ledwith.

Referee: Alan Kelly (Cork)