Sligo Rovers continued their impressive post-lockdown form despite not being at their best, as they saw off nine-man Finn Harps at the Showgrounds.
Mark Russell replied to Ryan De Vries' first half opener, but a super strike from substitute Ronan Murray and a late Ronan Coughlan penalty sealed the win for Rovers who move into third.
Coming off the back of five wins in their last six, Sligo Rovers looked for a reverse result to their opening night defeat to the Donegal side.
And despite a slow start, it was Liam Buckley’s charges who struck first on seven minutes.
David Cawley’s free down the right flank released Lewis Banks. The ex-Stoke City man linked up with Jesse Devers whose cross was initially misjudged by Coughlan.
The striker’s blushes were spared however when attacking partner De Vries arrived to slot past the wrong-footed Mark McGinley who had already committed himself.
Cawley wasn’t too far away from doubling Rovers’ lead just the past the quarter hour. His bending free-kick from close range found its way past the Harps wall, but skipped just past the bottom of McGinley’s right hand post.
Sligo net minder Ed McGinty earned his first call up to the Irish under 21 squad recently. The Scottish born goalkeeper showing why, when he pulled off a magnificent reaction save from an Alexander Kogler header after Ryan Connolly had picked out the Austrian marksman in front of goal on 19 minutes.
Harps will look to their considerable experience to try and keep them in top flight football for 2021.
Central to their hopes is Barry McNamee who wasn’t too far off with an effort on 20 minutes which almost sneaked inside the far post after work down the left from Connolly.
Russell laced a volley over McGinty’s crossbar before the break, while the second period was seven minutes old when Kolger screwed Russell’s cross past the post as the visitors looked to make their mark.
Harps’ hard work finally paid off just short of the hour when Shane McEleney’s long throw caused panic in the Sligo penalty area. Russell on hand to blast past McGinty on the spin after Rovers failed to clear their lines.
Harps then lost Mark Coyle to a second yellow before boss Horgan was sent to the stands in the aftermath.
Sligo introduced Murray to proceedings on 66 minutes and the Mayo native had his first goal of the season seven minutes later.
Both Junior and De Vries had shots blocked down by a tenacious Harps back line. Murray was not to be denied however, as he stepped up to curl a delicious effort past McGinley from the edge of the area.
Rovers put the game beyond Harps’ reach five minutes from time when Coughlan coolly dispatched the penalty he himself won, as Harps were reduced to nine with Kosavar Sadiki cautioned for the second time.
Sligo Rovers: Ed McGinty; Lewis Banks, Kyle McFadden, Teemu Penninkangas, Regan Donelon; David Cawley, Niall Morahan; Ryan De Vries (Darragh Noone 75), Junior, Jesse Devers (Ronan Murray 66); Ronan Coughlan.
Finn Harps: Mark McGinley; David Webster (Karl O'Sullivan 74), Kosavar Sadiki, Stephen Folan (Gareth Harkin 81); Adrian Delap (Shane McEleney HT), Sam Todd; Ryan Connolly (Adam Foley 81), Mark Coyle, Barry McNamee; Alexander Kogler (Raff Cretaro 75), Mark Russell.