Drogheda United are now nine games without a win on the road after goals from Sligo Rovers' Frank Liivak and Aidan Keena saw off the Boynesiders at the Showgrounds.
Liivak netted his second in as many games nine minutes in, while Keena converted from the penalty spot 15 minutes from time after Rovers’ New Zealand international Nando Pijnaker was fouled inside the United penalty area.
Continuing their mission to close the gap to St Pat’s in fourth, the Bit O’Red made two changes from their win over Dundalk on Monday last with a first start for Cameron Evans, while Max Mata returned to the starting side.
United for their part, stuck with the same eleven knocked out of the FAI Cup to Shamrock Rovers six nights previous.
Rovers bossed the opening quarter hour of this tie on a slick Showgrounds surface.
Mata fired straight at Drogs’ goalkeeper Colin McCabe in the fifth minute when the visitors failed to clear Robbie Burton’s corner.
Mata was involved again four minutes later as Rovers went in front. Liivak playing a quick and clever one-two with Mata, before the Estonian international squeezed between two defenders, slotting the ball into the corner of McCabe’s goal.
The Louth side recovered from a fast start from the hosts and went close with chances from the boots of Dean Williams, Darragh Markey and a well struck Georgie Poynton set-piece which Luke McNicholas had to tip over his crossbar.
John Russell’s charges finished the first period on the front foot however. Goal-scorer Liivak and Keena both going close to extending the lead before the interval.
Without victory on the road since seeing off UCD in Dublin in April, Drogheda wasted an opportunity to level this tie 20 minutes into the second half as both camps struggled to impose themselves after the re-start. Williams' shot on the turn lacked conviction as McNicholas easily claimed.
McCabe fisted away a Will Fitzgerald effort on 72, while McNicholas held on to a Markey strike after Sligo’s Paddy Kirk made a mess of an attempted clearance.
Rovers made hard work of it, but were settled by Keena’s 17th goal in all competitions. The Mullingar man blasted home from twelve yards after Pijnaker was pushed to the floor inside the area.
There was a late chance for United substitute Adam Foley, but the former Finn Harps striker skied from the angle with the goal at his mercy as Kevin Doherty’s outfit pushed for a consolation late on.
Sligo Rovers: Luke McNicholas; Lewis Banks, Nando Pijnaker, Cameron Evans (Colm Horgan 67), Paddy Kirk; Will Fitzgerald (Cillian Heaney 82), Greg Bolger (Niall Morahan 56), Robbie Burton, Frank Liivak; Aidan Keena, Max Mata (Kailin Barlow 56).
Drogheda United: Colin McCabe; Georgie Poynton (Luke Heeney 66), Keith Cowan (Dane Massey HT), Andrew Quinn, Evan Weir; Darragh Noone (Darragh Nugent 57), Gary Deegan; Dylan Grimes (Adam Foley 66), Dayle Rooney, Darragh Markey (Emre Topcu 85); Dean Williams.
Referee: Alan Patchell.