A Jordan Gibson penalty gave injury-hit Sligo Rovers victory against bottom side Longford Town at Bishopsgate.
The laboured, if deserved, win moves Liam Buckley's side up to second place in the Premier Division table, behind Shamrock Rovers on goal difference, ahead of their Europa Conference League trip to Iceland this week.
Sligo were without their in-from teenage striker Johnny Kenny due to a toe injury while another, unnamed player, sat out the game as he was a contact of a close contact of a Covid-19 case outside the club. Key central defender John Mahon, who had been ever present this season, wasn’t in the match-day squad.
Desperate for a lift, a quick throw almost brought Longford a third minute lead, Aaron Dobbs skipping in on the left only to blast his shot into the side netting.
Sligo responded with Gibson finding a pocket of space to rifle a shot over Lee Steacy's crossbar as the visitors soon began to dominate possession.
Back in the starting eleven, Sligo’s Jamaican striker Romeo Parkes turned adroitly on 11 minutes to get his shot away with a deflection taking the sting out of it as Steacy got down to make a comfortable save.
The first clear-cut chance arrived Sligo’s way on 19 minutes as Parkes set up Gibson. The shot, though,was miscued by the Englishman and drifted wide.
Dobbs’ hard running was an out for Longford and the striker was inches from stealing the lead for the home side two minutes later when his header from Dylan Grimes’ cross shaved the outside of a post.
Three minutes later Sligo were ahead from their next attack for what would prove the game's decisive moment.
Parkes skilfully controlled a long ball only to be upended just inside the area by Aaron O’Driscoll with referee Graham Kelly promptly pointing to the spot.
Gibson was confidence personified from 12 yards, calmly waiting for Steacy to go to his right before rolling the penalty into the other corner for his seventh goal of the season.
A further worry ahead of the trip to Iceland surfaced 10 minutes later as goalkeeper Ed McGinty limped off having collided with his own defender Garry Buckley.
With Richard Brush out injured, Luke McNicholas, just back from a loan spell at Finn Harps, went between the posts.
Remaining the dominant side, Sligo were close to stretching their lead four minutes before the interval, Lewis Banks stretching to shoot wide at the back post from skipper Greg Bolger’s superbly delivered corner.
Gibson continued to be Sligo’s chief threat into the second half, twice coming close to adding to their lead.
Colm Horgan’s run and cross set up Gibson to see his shot deflected for a corner.
Bolger’s centre in wasn’t properly clear with Gibson shooting the loose ball just wide.
Just past the hour mark, a mistake by Longford left-back Paddy Kirk gifted Parkes a free run on goal. But the striker blasted his shot off the underside of the crossbar.
De Vries then brought the save of the game from Steacy with a follow-up shot.
Longford worked hard to remain in the game, Dobbs again stretching the visitors on 66 minutes to pull the ball back for Aaron Robinson whose drive was deflected out for a corner.
It proved to no avail, however, as the midlanders are now 18 games without a win and remain four points adrift at the foot of the table.
Longford Town: Lee Steacy; Shane Elworthy (Conor Davis 79), Joe Manley, Aaron O’Driscoll, Paddy Kirk; Dean Zambra (Matt O'Brien h-t), Aaron Robinson (Rob Manley 76); Aaron McNally (Karl Chambers h-t), Aodh Dervin, Dylan Grimes; Aaron Dobbs (Aaron McCabe 87).
Sligo Rovers: Ed McGinty (Luke McNicholas 35); Lewis Banks, Garry Buckley, Shane Blaney, Colm Horgan; Greg Bolger, Niall Morahan; Mark Byrne (David Cawley 73), Jordan Gibson (Walter Figuiera 90), Ryan De Vries; Romeo Parkes.
Referee: Graham Kelly (Cork).