Lewis Banks volleyed league leaders Sligo Rovers to victory in an action-packed north-west derby against Finn Harps in Ballybofey.
Harry McCourt's corner on the hour proved to be something of an ordeal for the home defence and despite having a couple of bites at it, Harps failed to clear and Banks finished emphatically when it finally came his way, volleying home left-footed.
The latter stages dragged for the away team, with Romeo Parkes, the scorer of the opening goal, given a straight red card by match referee Paul McLaughlin just two minutes later for a clash with Kosovar Sadiki by the corner flag.
Liam Buckey's Sligo, fresh from an excellent 1-0 win at Shamrock Rovers on Monday night with Parkes scoring the only goal, took the lead in Ballybofey only five minutes in only for Babatunde Owolabi to level within a minute.
Parkes steered home from 12 yards after Mark Anthony McGinley in the Harps goal only partially punched clear from another McCourt delivery from a corner.
Fifty seconds later, still in the fifth minute, the sides were level with Owolabi tucked home his first goal for Harps. It came following an Adam Foley centre from the left and was placed past Ed McGinty from six yards after a loose pass in midfield from Jordan Gibson.
Ollie Horgan was back on the bench for Harps following his three-match ban having been sent off against Shamrock Rovers last month and would’ve been encouraged by the performance of his team and Owolabi in particular.
The Belgian, formerly of FC United, was proving a real handful and drew a fine stop from McGinty in the 20th minute before attempting an overhead kick from the rebound, which went just over the crossbar.
He also missed a glorious chance from a one-on-one right before the break, as well as having two goals disallowed.
Sligo Rovers stretched their lead at the top of the Premier Division to four points after a battling 2-1 victory against Finn Harps. pic.twitter.com/iM8N32QeuC— Soccer Republic (@SoccRepublic) May 28, 2021
Sligo might’ve edged ahead themselves on the half-hour, with Mark Byrne sneaking in at the back post but unable to keep his volley down from Greg Bolger’s free that was screaming for a decisive touch.
So, 1-1 at the break and Foley, the league’s joint-top scorer alongside Mark Doyle of Drogheda United and Bohemian’s Georgie Kelly, shot just wide at the start of the second period.
But when it looked like Harps were the most likely, Banks powered Sligo 2-1 in front much to the delight of their vocal support outside of the perimeter fence, before Parke’s dismissal.
'You can see why they're up there... it's not by fluke that they're there' - Ollie Horgan reacts to Finn Harps defeat to Sligo Rovers, while Liam Buckley said he couldn't remember his team playing worse but praised their workrate in grinding out a win #rtesoccer pic.twitter.com/zCvc0KC9xD— Soccer Republic (@SoccRepublic) May 28, 2021
The in-form Jordan Gibson almost made it three with Sligo looking stern at the back from a blistering shot from the edge of the area eight minutes from time, only for McGinley to make a superb one-handed save to tip over.
At the other end, two minutes past the 90, 10-man Sligo had McGinty to thank for a great save from substitute Sean Boys’ header.
Finn Harps: Mark Anthony McGinley; Ethan Boyle, Shane McEleney, Kosovar Sadiki (Tony McNamee 84), Dave Webster (Johnny Dunleavy 67); Mark Coyle, Will Seymore (Ryan Connolly 77); Karl O'Sullivan (Sean Boyd 77), Barry McNamee, Adam Foley (Mark Russell 84); Babatunde Owolabi.
Sligo Rovers: Ed McGinty; Lewis Banks (Colm Horgan 65), Garry Buckley, John Mahon, Robbie McCourt; Walter Figueira (Johnny Kenny 77), Greg Bolger, Niall Morahan; Jordan Gibson, Mark Byrne; Romeo Parkes.
Referee: Paul McLaughlin.