Rovers beaten by UCD
Sligo Roverswere beaten 1-0 by UCD in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division at the UCD Bowl.
Samir Belhout's strike a minute and a half into the game was the deciding factor as an unfortunate Rovers side as they fell to their seventh defeat of the season.
Aaron Greene, Paul O'Conor, Evan McMillan and John Russell were unavailable due to injuries picked up this week in training. Kalen Spillane was also ruled out from injury in the FK Banga game. Danny North was suspended. Ruairi Keating made a first start for the club.
A hard-working UCD side grabbed the lead with just 75 seconds played.
Debutant Connor Cannon linked up well with Robbie Benson before the latter slipped the ball through to Belhout, who blasted the ball beyond Gary Rogers from 10 yards.
Things went from bad to worse for Rovers four minutes later as they were forced to withdraw winger Raffaele Cretaro, who limped off with a calf injury. After the game John Coleman said it is likely Cretaro will miss the rest of the season.
Aaron Callaghan's side looked relatively comfortable during the opening stages against a Sligo side who made five changes from last Thursday's Europa League game with FK Banga.
It was not until the 15th minute of the tie that the Bit O'Red produced their first chance of note.
Ruairi Keating did well to spot the run of the incoming Eric Odhiambo, who could only slice the ball left footed, into the side netting of Conor O'Donnell's goal.
Kieran Djilali saw his well caught volley from the edge of the UCD area whistle narrowly over the target on 25.
Odhiambo's speculative effort from the narrowest of angles almost sneaked behind the outstretched arm of O'Donnell on 34.
The home side then had to rely on some superb defending from centre-half Hugh Douglas nine minutes from the break.
Keating looked favourite to get his head on to the end of an Alan Keane cross, but Douglas somehow managed to get himself in front of the former Finn Harps man and cleared the danger.
Conneely's header missed the target on 40 as Rovers enjoyed a sustained period of pressure on the UCD goal at the end of the second half.
Odhiambo could only direct his header downward from another Ledwith cross moments later. The ball bouncing off the surface and well clear of O'Donnell's goal as the Students held the narrowest of leads at the break.
Rovers had what looked like legitimate claims for a penalty turned down eight minutes into the second half.
Jeff Henderson was bundled over just as he was about to pull the trigger, but referee Padraig Sutton showed little interest in the centre-back's claims for a spot kick.
Benson spurned a wonderful opportunity to double UCD's lead on 58 minutes. Having robbed Henderson of possession at the edge of the area, Benson skillfully rounded Rogers, but could only hit the post with an open goal gaping.
Sligo almost made their opponents pay on the next attack. Ross Gaynor's cross to the back post was well controlled by Keane, but the Galway native blasted the ball against the legs of O'Donnell before the ball was cleared to safety.
Keating tested O'Donnell once more on 64, but again O'Donnell was level to another tame Rovers effort.
Sligo introduced Sean Maguire on 65 in an effort to drag themselves back into the game.
Conneely couldn't get the necessary power behind his side-footed volley on 73 following Keane's searching cross from the right.
Danny Ledwith's close-range free was tipped past the past by O'Donnell three minutes later after Djilali was fouled by Robbie Creevy.
Maguire did well to skip by the challenge of two UCD players on 80 as the FAI Cup holders pressed hard for a leveller.
The young striker, on loan from West Ham, took what looked like one touch too many and gave O'Donnell time to spread himself and block down the Kilkenny man's effort.
Conneely went close once more on 85. Djilali did well to weave his way around James Kavanagh before finding David Cawley.
Cawley tipped the ball to Conneely, who with plenty of time and space could only send a soaring shot over the UCD goal.
Conneely again went close to equalising two minutes into stoppage time at the end of the game, but Gavin Peers inadvertently got in the way of Conneely's goal-bound effort before the ball rolled out of play .
UCD: Conor O'Donell; Gareth Matthews, Mark Langtry (for Sean Coyne 45), Hugh Douglas, James Kavanagh; Robbie Benson, Colm Crowe, Timmy Molloy, Robbie Creevy, Conor Cannon (for Gary Burke 71); Samir Belhout (Chris Mulhall 62).
Sligo Rovers: Gary Rogers; Alan Keane, Gavin Peers, Jeff Henderson, Ross Gaynor; Raffaele Cretaro (for Danny Ledwith 5), David Cawley, Seamus Conneely, Kieran Djilali; Eric Odhiambo (for Sean Maguire 65); Ruairi Keating.
Referee: Padraigh Sutton