Sligo Rovers are now just one point away from safety after they recorded a 3-1 victory over Finn Harps at the Showgrounds.

First-half goals from Niall Watson, Ronan Murray and Sam Warde did the damage for the Bit O'Red.

Harry Ascroft grabbed a late consolation for the Ballybofey men, who remain seven points off Cork City in eighth.

In need of the points much more than their rivals, it was the visitors who actually started this one the brighter.

Nathan Boyle wasn’t miles off with an early header from a Mark Timlin cross.

Despite their early raids forward, Harps’ world fell apart in an eight-minute spell in which they conceded three.

Daryl Fordyce had an effort taken off the line eleven minutes in, but the Donegal side were powerless to resist as Sligo hit the lead 21 minutes in.

Watson added too much power to his header as he nodded past Mark McGinley having been picked out by a Murray cross. This was Watson’s second strike in as many outings.

Rovers had their second three minutes later. Murray cut inside from the left before lashing an unstoppable drive across the front of McGinley and into the opposite corner of the net for his first goal of the season.

Two became three on 29 minutes, with Warde’s corner creeping all the way past a forest of legs before sneaking in at the back post.

Timlin’s resulting shot from a well-worked Mark Coyle set-piece was blocked away by Danny Kane early in the second period.

Boyle’s strength saw him see off two Sligo defenders, but the 25-year-old could only blast over from 15 yards.

Harps boss Ollie Horgan was then sent to the stand just before the hour when his frustrations got the better of him.

The form wouldn’t have improved much from Horgan’s vantage in the Treacy Avenue stand.

Substitute Ascroft’s volley sailed past Ed McGinty’s posts after a series of ricochets saw the ball sit up for the Australian.

Raff Cretaro had a late penalty call turned down when his smashed volley seemed to come off the chest of a Sligo defender inside McGinty’s area.

Harps did cause significant uncertainty in the Rovers camp late on. Ascroft turned Tony McNamee’s long throw past McGinty and Cretaro saw a powerful effort bounce off the frame of the goal.

Sligo Rovers: Ed McGinty; Niall Morahan, Danny Kane, John Mahon, Regan Donelon (James McGrath 82); Kris Twardek, Sam Warde, Daryl Fordyce (Scott Lynch 77), Niall Watson; Ronan Coughlan (Brian Morley 64), Ronan Murray.

Finn Harps: Mark McGinley; Keith Cowan, Sam Todd, Dan O’Reilly (Mark Coyle HT); Jacob Borg, Mark Russell; Ruairi Harkin (Tony McNamee 72), Gareth Harkin (Harry Ascroft HT); Raff Cretaro, Mark Timlin; Nathan Boyle.

Referee: Ben Connolly.

Attendance: 1,685.