Rovers progress in Europe
Sligo Rovers will face Norwegian side Rosenborg in the second round of the Europa League Qualfying Rounds following a 4-0 second leg win over FK Banga Gargzdai at the Showgrounds. Goals from Alan Keane, Aaron Greene, Danny North and David Cawley handed Rovers only the second European victory in the club's history.
The result means that John Coleman's side progress on a matching aggregate scoreline following last week's scoreless first leg.
Rovers were handed a significant advantage on 72 minutes when Karolis Urbaitis was dismissed by Albanian referee Bardhyl Pashej.
The FAI Cup holders were without Danny Ledwith (groin), Jeff Henderson (foot) and Joseph Ndo (calf). John Coleman went with the same eleven which played out an entertaining scoreless draw with Cork City on Sunday.
Banga boss Maksim Tischenko kept with the same team from the first leg. New signings, Russian midfielder Valeri Makiev and Ukrainian striker Artur Siryk took their places on the bench despite having only arrived in Ireland early Thursday morning.
North almost gave the Bit o'Red the perfect start with seven minutes played. Kieran Djilali's corner from the left was met by the head of the 26-year-old, but North failed to get the telling touch to guide the ball inside Sarunas Jurevicius' far post.
Cawley headed wide on 12 minutes from another Djilali corner as Rovers dominated the early exchanges.
Rovers allowed the Lithuanians into the game though as Eivinas Zagursksas' stinging drive from 30 yards was Banga's first chance of the game. Sligo goalkeeper Gary Rogers was level to the striker's powerful effort.
Rogers has been arguably Sligo's stand out player this season, and the North Westerners had to rely on their net minder once more on 25 minutes. Evan McMillan upended Aurelijus Staponka at the edge of the area before Alexey Epifanov's free kick was pushed on to the post by the alert Rogers.
Rovers captured the lead a minute into injury time at the end of the first half. Djilali was brought down at the edge of the box, but his claims for a free kick fell on deaf ears. Play resumed and possession fell to Greene whose shot was deflected away to Keane who, hitting the ball first time on his left foot, lashed the ball past Jurevicius and into the corner of the visitors' net.
Banga almost grabbed a precious away goal moments later. Evaldas Grigaitis, who had caused Sligo plenty of problems in the first leg, was afforded plenty of time and space but only the right hand of Rogers who again did well to deny the Lithuanians.
Raffaele Cretaro and Cawley both had efforts at goal early in the second half, but neither could breach the Banga back line with shots from distance. While the dangerous Staponka fired narrowly over on 57.
North passed up a great opportunity to double Rovers' lead on the hour mark. Greene's searching ball from deep found the Grimsby man at the edge of the six yard box, but North was unable to shift his body in time to get away any sort of meaningful shot despite the advantageous position.
Sligo were handed a massive boost on 68 minutes when Urbaitis was dismissed for a second bookable offence after he brought down Greene with a heavy challenge.
It didn't take the Bit o'Red long to capitalise on their numerical advantage as the Setanta Cup holders doubled their lead on 72. Keane's run down the right saw him lay the ball to John Russell, who in turn fed Greene who, in hitting it first time, lashed the ball beyond the hapless Jurevicius from 15 yards, much to the joy of the Showgrounds faithful.
North made it three seven minutes from time. Russell was given all the time in the world to finish past Jurevicius, but hesitated and in doing so was robbed of possession. Fortunately for Sligo, the alert North was on hand to tap the ball into an empty net to confirm Rovers' progression to the second round.
Cretaro could have made it four straight from the restart, but could only clip the Banga woodwork while Russell's bending effort fizzed past the post on 86.
Rovers were well in control at this stage and Cawley made it four on 89 as Conneely skipped past the challenge of his marker to square the ball to the unmarked Mayo man who tapped home.
Sligo Rovers: Gary Rogers (for Richard Brush 84); Alan Keane (for Gavin Peers 87), Kalen Spillane (for Ross Gaynor 23), Evan McMillan, Seamus Conneely; Kieran Djilali, David Cawley, John Russell, Aaron Greene, Danny North.
FK Banga Gargzdai: Sarunas Jurevičius, Zaurbek Karkusov (for Artem Stezhka 25), Davydas Arlauskis, Alexey Epifanov, Karolis Urbaitis, Sergei Shevchuk, Maksym Khablov (for Valery Makiev 70), Andrius Butkus (for Artur Siryk 74), Evaldas Grigaitis, Eivinas Zagurskas, Aurelijus Staponka.
Referee: Bardhyl Pashaj (Albania)