Sligo Rovers defied all the odds to record a simply superb 3-0 win over champions Dundalk at Oriel Park. Achille Campion capitalised on a mistake from former Rovers goalkeeper Gary Rogers to give the Bit O'Red the lead inside the first minute while Phil Roberts' stunning, curling effort seven minutes from the break doubled the away side's advantage.
Dundalk pressed Dave Robertson's side in an effort to find a way back into the tie but some fine rearguard action and a 60th minute solo goal from Raffaele Cretaro on the counter saw Rovers take a much deserved win from County Louth. The result is Stephen Kenny's heaviest league defeat as Lilywhites boss as Rovers threw threw the title race wide open.
Rovers were forced to finish the game with ten men as Liam Martin was harshly dismissed shortly before Cretaro's strike when he tripped Sean Gannon as the full back raced past Martin.
Campion set Rovers on their way as early as the 47th second when he chased down a back pass from the Dundalk back line. Rogers failed to control the ball as it sneaked under his foot. The former Rovers man recovered to parry the ball off the line only for the alert Campion to be on hand to take control and tap into an empty net.
Ronan Finn almost replied instantly for the double winners while Stephen O'Donnell and Dane Massey also went close.
Ciaran Nugent enjoyed a great night between the sticks for Sligo and denied Finn on ten as he got a touch to the midfielder's effort to push it around his post.
Rovers went close to adding to their lead when Mick Leahy headed just off target before Roberts came off the bench to replace the injured Campion to curl one of the goals of the season into Rogers’ left hand corner.
Rogers denied Roberts on the second occasion seconds into the restart before Tobi Adebayo-Rowling denied Daryl Horgan with a great block moments later. Horgan turned provider 60 seconds later, picking out McMillan with a great cross, but his header went straight at Nugent.
There was concern just before the break when Martin was harshly sent off by referee Ben Connolly for a trip on Gannon.
The result, though, was put beyond doubt six minutes later. Cretaro combined with John Russell before firing past Rogers for Rovers' third.
Kenny's side pushed to register a consolation late on but Nugent was on hand to keep out McMillan and Dean Shiels to earn Rovers their fourth clean sheet on the bounce.
Rovers' next outing is at home to Longford Town this Friday night, kick-off 7.45pm.
Dundalk: Gary Rogers; Sean Gannon, Brian Gartland (Dean Shiels 72), Andy Boyle, Dane Massey; Chris Shields (Patrick McEleney HT), Stephen O’Donnell; Darren Meenan (John Mountney 52), Ronan Finn, Daryl Horgan; David McMillan.
Sligo Rovers: Ciaran Nugent; Tobi Adebayo-Rowling, Mick Leahy, Gary Boylan, Jimmy Keohane; Pat McCann, John Russell (Daniel Kearns 67), Craig Roddan, Liam Martin; Raffaele Cretaro, Achille Campion (Phil Roberts 32).
Referee: Ben Connolly.