Sligo Rovers secured a comfortable 2-0 win over Athlone Town to finish pre-season.
It takes the Bit o’Red to a four wins from five record under Dave Robertson with clean sheets kept in each of the wins. The only reverse came with the win by Liverpool u-21s in The Showgrounds.
A goal in either half by Liam Martin and Kieran Sadlier respectively ensured the win at Athlone Town Stadium.
Rovers were on top from the off and Liam Martin almost had a goal on six minutes. Gary Boylan got away from his defender down the right win putting in a good cross, it was just ahead of Liam Martin’s run into the box however.
A minute later Mikey Place, playing up front, picked up position towards the right side of the box. He turned back in and shot quickly left footed. His effort found the target but the home keeper was down and saved.
Chris Lyons brought Rovers even closer to an opener on 14 minutes when he came in from the left for a shot the came back off the crossbar.
Martin got his third goal of pre-season on 24 minutes. A move started by Micheal Schlingermann saw an accurate ball realised Martin down the left and the Donegal winger shot low across goal beyond the keeper. He ends pre-season as Rovers leading scorer.
He has a similar chance on 31 finding himself on the ball 12 yards out, he dug out a shot under pressure that ended just wide.
Five minutes before half-time came Tim Clancy clipped a free-kick to deceive Town as Gary Armstrong peeled in behind into some space. His couldn’t keep the ball down with his shot though.
Clancy then shot shortly after from a free slightly nearer the goals but this also went too high.
Early substitutions in the second half slowed the pace of the game for a period but Kieran Sadlier soon had Rovers scoring again.
He showed strength and space to get in behind the Athlone defence with his first touch putting the ball in his path for a low finish to the back of the net.
Another sub Jaanai Gordon went close minutes later when he struck a sweet show from 20 yards which the keeper was just away to tip for a corner.
Immediately following that his striker partner Phil Roberts turned wonderfully on the edge of the box making himself an opportunity to shoot, it went just wide low at the far post.
Roberts then played a lovely through ball to put sadlier in on 79 minutes, this time his shot didn’t have the same power with the keeper able to prevent it becoming three.
The night’s final shot came from Jimmy Kohane who in some space nearly 30 yards out hit an early half volley that the keeper just got across to keep put.
The serious business of the SSE Airtricity League in next for Rovers. It begins at the Showgrounds on March 5 against Shamrock Rovers.
Before that you can see how the team is preparing when we host an open day at The Showgrounds Saturday between 11am and 1pm giving fans the opportunity to then watch and meet this year’s Bit o’Red players.