by David Goulden at the Showgrounds
Sligo Rovers 1-2 Shamrock Rovers
Sean O'Connor and Michael Drennan struck either side of a superb Danny Ledwith free-kick as Shamrock Rovers defeated Sligo Rovers 2-1 at the Showgrounds in the SSE Airtricty League Premier Division.
An entertaining first half saw O'Connor put the Dublin side into the lead with five minutes played as he made the most a mishap in a cagey Sligo defence. Ledwith levelled the game just four minutes later when his well dispatched free-kick curled into the corner of Craig Hyland's net.
The Hoops capitalised on more lax Rovers defending on 51 as Drennan tapped in while unmarked at the back post. The rest of the game seemed to pass a poor Sligo side by as they continue their unimpressive start to the season.
Rovers made three changes to the side that drew a stalemate with Derry at the weekend. Raffaele Cretaro, Morten Nielsen and Sander Puri all returning to the side.
The Hoops travelled to Sligo in good spirits having enjoyed an unbeaten start to the season. Manager Pat Fenlon made two changes as midfielders O'Connor and Stephen McPhail came back into the side following last week's scoreless draw with Cork.
The Dublin Rovers made the perfect start as O'Connor put them in the lead with five minutes played. Alan Keane's attempted back-pass was intercepted by Drennan before Sligo goalkeeper Ryan Coulter did well to block down the former Aston Villa man's effort. Drennan collected possession at then end line once more before squaring for the waiting O'Connor who was left with a simple finish.
Sligo had what looked like legitimate appeals for a penalty turned down on 13 minutes when Cretaro was tripped inside the Shamrock Rovers penalty area by Patrick Cregg. Referee Tomas Connolly pointing the ball rather than the spot to indicate he felt Cregg had won the tackle.
But the westerners had their way shortly after and Cregg was again involved in the goal that levelled the game on 17. The former Arsenal man fouled Eoin Wearen 20 yards from goal before Ledwith sent his bending free-kick into the corner of Craig Hyland's net for his first goal of the season.
Sligo's David Cawley dragged wide, his right footed effort on 27 while David Webster's speculative effort sailed over Coulter's crossbar on the half hour mark.
The Tallaght side had a penalty call of their own turned down on 33 when Gavin Peers' over-zealous challenge on O'Connor saw the winger fall to the ground inside the Sligo area.
Fenlon's side resumed the lead six minutes into a scrappy second half. Keith Fahey's smart turn bringing him past the challenge of two Sligo defenders before his driven cross was allowed all the way through to the Sligo back post where Drennan was on hand to tap-in.
McPhail should have doubled the away side's lead two minutes later after O'Connor and Drennan combined well to tee up the former Leeds midfielder but he somehow found the side netting from close range.
Hyland had to be alert to tip over Sander Puri's scuffed cross on 63. Wearen produced a magnificent save from the young net minder on 73 when he leapt to head Keane's volleyed pass toward the top corner only for Hyland to palm the ball to safety.
Time was running out for the Setanta Cup holders and Owen Heary introduced Kevin Devaney and Dinny Corcoran in an attempt to inject some bite into the Sligo Rovers attack.
But the game fizzled out on Sligo as the Hoops were relatively comfortable any time the home side threatened - Fenlon's side recording their third league win of the season.
Sligo Rovers: Ryan Coulter; Alan Keane, Gavin Peers, Stephen Folan, Danny Ledwith; Steven Beattie, David Cawley, Eoin Wearen, Raffaele Cretaro, Sander Puri (for Kevin Devaney 74); Morten Nielsen (for Dinny Corcoran 74).
Subs not used: Ciaran Kelly, Gary Boylan, Jake Dykes, Keith Ward, Ryan McManus.
Shamrock Rovers: Craig Hyland; Simon Madden, Conor Kenna, David Webster, David O'Connor; Gavin Brennan (for Kieran Waters 80), Stephen McPhail. Keith Fahey, Patrick Cregg (for Ryan Brennan 62), Sean O'Connor; Michael Drennan (for Gareth McCaffery 87).
Subs not used: Barry Murphy, Maxime Blanchard, Gary McCabe, Brandon Miele.
Referee: Tomas Connolly