Cawley, Zayed and North on target as Rovers beat Bohs
Sligo Rovers opened up a three point gap between themselves and Derry City in the SSE Airtricity League following a narrow 3-2 win over Bohemians at the Showgrounds.
Man of the Match David Cawley struck late in the first half, before Jake Hyalnd levelled the game on 54. Sligo recaptured the lead on the hour mark courtesy of an Eamon Zayed strike before Danny North made it 3-1 to Rovers with three minutes of the game to play as he tapped home into an empty net.
It wasn't all plain sailing for John Coleman's side from here however, as the Gypsies pressed late on and found a second from the head of substitute Daniel Corcoran on the stroke of full-time.
The Dublin side looked the brighter early on against a Rovers side who were without seven first team players due to injury and suspensions. Although Paddy Kavanagh's cross-come-shot which was easily dealt with by Sligo goalkeeper Richard Brush, was the closest the away side came to an opener during the first ten minutes.
Raffaele Cretaro saw his shot from the edge of the area charged down by Keith Buckley with ten minutes played. Brush was called into action again three minutes later as he blocked down Steven Beattie's bending volley from the angle.
Zayed did well to beat Bohs defender Roberto Lopes with a neat touch on 20 minutes, but couldn't keep his shot down as Dean Delany remained untroubled in the away goal.
Kavanagh was next to go close on 24 as Bohs looked dangerous on the counter. But the former Derry winger was unfortunate not to find the inside of Brush's post having twisted and turned around the challenge of two Sligo defenders.
Rovers' Cawley saw his free from 20 yards sail over Delany's crossbar just past the half hour mark after Derek Pender upended Cretaro.
Bohs were denied by a superb last ditch tackle from Evan McMillan on 34. Brush came, but failed to claim Kavanagh's corner before the ball fell to Beattie who looked as if all he had to do was finish into an empty net. McMillan had different ideas however as he miraculously hooked the ball from the foot of the Dubliner with an open goal gaping.
The westerners grabbed the lead on 39. Boylan found David Cawley at the edge of the Bohs area, before the Mayo man played a one two with Cretaro. Right footed, Cawley opened up his body and struck a firm, low shot past the reach of Delany and into the bottom corner of the net for his first league goal of the season.
Aidan Price almost levelled the game on the stroke of half-time but he saw his glancing header from a Jake Hyland free fizz past Brush's post. Buckley found Beattie in a similar position moments later but the 26-year-old could only head over despite being umarked in front of goal.
Cawley was extremely unlucky not to double his lead with just over minute of the second half played. In receiving the ball over his shoulder, Cawley took one touch to control the ball before unleashing a vicious strike which struck the underside of the crossbar before bouncing off the goal line.
Lopes almost bundled the ball across the Sligo line on 51, but Brush was alert enough to gather the ball having spilled the initial effort.
Bohs did find an equaliser on 54. Buckley's cross from deep was met by the head of the unmarked Hyland who nodded the ball between Brush and his near post for his first league goal of the season.
It only took the hosts six minutes to move back into the lead however. Delany did well to push away Gavin Peers' bullet header from a Cawley corner, but he could only clear the ball as far as the prowling Zayed who tapped home from close range.
Beattie almost levelled the game once more on 68 but he couldn't control Pender's ball to the front post, instead giving Brush the time to assume possession of the loose ball.
Bohs boss Owen Heary boosted his side's attacking options by introducing both Daniel Corcoran and Kevin Devaney to proceedings with eleven minutes remaining.
The move almost paid off six minutes later but Brush did well to tip over Corcoran's header from point blank range following a Beattie cross.
The FAI and Setanta Sports Cup holders stretched their lead on 87. Cawley's initial shot was palmed away by Delany before the ball dribbled to the waiting North who tapped home with easy at the back post for his seventh league goal of the campaign.
The Showgrounds side looked to be home and dry but were made sweat late on as Corcoran struck on 90. The former UCD man heading home Devaney's cross from the left with Brush left stranded.
Sligo Rovers: Richard Brush; Gary Boylan, Gavin Peers (for Gary Armstrong 90+3), Evan McMillan, Regan Donelon; Seamus Conneely, John Russell, David Cawley, Raffaele Cretaro (for Kalen Spillane 79); Eamon Zayed, Danny North.
Bohemians: Dean Delany; Derek Pender, Roberto Lopes, Aidan Price, Jack Memery; Paddy Kavanagh, Keith Buckley (for Daniel Corcoran 79), Craig Walsh, Jake Hyland (for Kevin Devaney 79), Adam Evans (Karl Moore 68); Steven Beattie.
Referee: Padraigh Sutton