Sligo 0-2 St Patrick's Athletic
Sligo Rovers began life without top scorer Max Mata with defeat, as St Patrick's Athletic moved to within one point of the Premier Division summit with their first win over the Bit O’Red in four attempts.
Chris Forrester slotted home an early penalty before Sam Curtis doubled the Saints’ lead on 32 minutes as Pat’s kept the pressure on league leaders Shamrock Rovers.
David Cawley’s injury-time penalty miss added insult to injury for Sligo.
Making three changes from their draw in Drogheda a week ago, Rovers boss John Russell gave a first start to recent signing Pedro Martelo, while there was a also a first start in almost one year for Garry Buckley, following his long-term ACL injury. Frank Liivak was Sligo’s other change.
Pat’s were knocked back this week by the announcement of Eoin Doyle's mid-year retirement but there was some good news for the Dubliners, who welcomed back Joe Redmond for his first start since April following a lengthy lay-off. Jake Mulraney and Anto Breslin were back in the first eleven having missed the FAI Cup tie with Longford.
Sligo did have spells of play in the final third and chances in the opening period through Martelo and Stefan Radosavljevic. But it was Pat’s who were far more clinical when the opportunities arose and the Inchicore men were gifted their opener.
Buckley chopped down Mark Doyle inside the Rovers area after a Mulraney breakaway and Forrester’s calm finish from the spot sending Luke McNicholas the wrong way.
Chris Forrester gives St Pat's the lead from the spot against Sligo after Mark Doyle is brought down in the box.— RTÉ Soccer (@RTEsoccer) August 4, 2023
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Looking to end a run of three straight defeats to Rovers, Pat’s wasted two wonderful chances in quick succession.
Jason McClelland’s shot was spilled into the path of Conor Carty, who fluffed his lines from close range. Mulraney then blazed over the Sligo crossbar from six yards as he connected on the stretch with Doyle’s cross towards the back post.
Indecisive defending from the hosts then led to Pat’s second on 32 minutes.
Mulraney’s set piece from the right caused confusion between Lukas Browning and Johan Brannefalk, neither of whom managed to clear the danger. Possession fell to Curtis, who lashed home for his third of the year.
Sam Curtis capitalises on poor Sligo defending from a Jake Mulraney free-kick to give St Pat's a 2-0 lead.— RTÉ Soccer (@RTEsoccer) August 4, 2023
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Carty missed another sitter seven minutes into the second period. Mulraney’s shot deflected back off the woodwork, after he skirted along the edge of the Sligo box. Carty again shot wide with the goal at his mercy.
Both Forrester and Saints change Alex Nolan fired narrowly wide on 61 and 70 minutes respectively with Sligo, who introduced star winger Fabrice Hartmann, having plenty of the ball without looking overly-menacing.
Dean Lyness was forced his first stop of the half with seven minutes to go. The Birmingham native reaching towards the top corner to pull off a stunning two-handed save to deny Hartmann from range.
Forrester almost capped off the win in stunning fashion, his 30 yard free-kick bouncing back off the crossbar with three minutes to go.
Cawley then sent his spot-kick well wide in injury-time after his effort had comeoff a Pat’s arm inside the area.
Full-time: Sligo Rovers 0-2 St Patrick's Athletic— RTÉ Soccer (@RTEsoccer) August 4, 2023
David Cawley wins a penalty for Sligo, but his effort from the spot is misdirected and wide of the target.
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Sligo Rovers: Luke McNicholas; Johan Brannefalk, Garry Buckley, Nando Pijnaker, Niall Morahan; Greg Bolger, Lukas Browning (Fabrice Hartmann 63); Stefan Radosavljevic, Kailin Barlow (Karl O’Sullivan 76), Frank Liivak (David Cawley 83); Pedro Martelo.
St Patrick’s Athletic: Dean Lyness; Sam Curtis, Joe Redmond, John McGrath, Anthony Breslin; Adam Murphy, Chris Forrester; Mark Doyle, Jason McClelland (Ben McCormack 92); Jake Mulraney (Alex Nolan 64); Conor Carty (Thomas Lonergan 76).
Referee: Rob Harvey