Sligo Rovers were narrowly beaten in an entertaining game by Dundalk last night in the SSE Airtricity League as they came from behind to get the win.
Morten Nielsen scored early in the game giving the Bit o’Red the lead but the league champions came back with a goal in each half to win.
Nielsen was one of two changes made to the team coming in along with Gary Armstrong. They took the places of Steven Beattie and John Russell who had to miss out with injuries.
Rovers made a bright start with the first chance coming on four minutes. David Cawley played a nice ball in behind the Dundalk defence which was chased down by Sander Puri.
Puri’s first shot which he dinked over Gary Rogers was cleared off the line with his own follow up then kept out by Rogers.
A minute later the pressure continued as a free-kick just outside the box gave an opportunity for Danny Ledwith to show his set-piece skills. He lifted the ball over the wall but it ended narrowly wide.
The lead came on nine minutes. Dane Nielsen got possession 40 yards from goal, strode forward and smacked the ball fiercely at goal and the shot could not be kept out by Rogers despite getting a hand on it.
It gave Nielsen his first league goal for the club having previously scored an EA Sports Cup goal.
Another free for Rovers came on 40 minutes, this time a different approach was taken as it was rolled short into the path of Gary Armstrong. He connected well with the shot but it was off target.
The first time Dundalk had a look at goal came on 26 minutes when Richie Towell had an effort following a cleared cross but he volleyed well over. That was followed a couple of minutes later by a speculative effort by Towell again which didn’t test Brush.
But Richard Brush did have to be on his toes when pulling off a great one-handed save when Daryl Horgan shot quickly from just outside the box.
On 34 minutes Horgan played the central role in Dundalk getting back level. He played a cross over too difficult to deal with and from a couple of yards the ball came off Ledwith and into the net.
The minutes before and after the break were quiet for both sides but a penalty on 55 minutes gave the away team the chance to move in front. Towell was the man to take and he hit it to the bottom right corner as Brush went the other way.
Dundalk were able to sit back and keep the ball for large parts of the game after and restricted the number of clear openings.
Gavin Peers put a dangerous ball over the top of the Dundalk centre backs that was aimed at half-time sub Kevin Devaney but an alert Rogers got to it just before.
Another sub Raff Cretaro had a good header with three minutes to go as the Bit o’Red pinned Dundalk back looking for an equaliser. He did well to reach a Puri cross and got his attempt on target but it went to the hands of the keeper.
Keith Wards had earlier been introduced foe Eoin Wearen and he had a great pass just as the game entered injury time picking out Cretaro. He controlled on his chest and held the ball up for a few moment before having his shot. Gartland was able to get his frame in the way however and deflect it away to safety.
In the final minute Ward played a free in from deep to a packed penalty box but it was Rogers who claimed the ball and Dundalk who claimed the three points.
Sligo Rovers: Brush, Keane, Peers, Folan, Ledwith, Armstrong, Cawley, Nielsen (Devaney 45), Wearen (Ward 67), Puri, Corcoran (Cretaro 62).
Subs not used: Coulter, Boylan, McManus, Dykes.
Dundalk: Rogers, Gannon, Gartland, Boyle, Massey, Mountney (Meenan 45), Shields, Towell, Finn (O’Donnell 72), Horgan, McMillan (Byrne 75).
Subs not used: Sava, Grimes, Kelly, O’Connor.