Head-to head: Rovers v Drogheda
Sligo Rovers and Drogheda United had had several memorable meetings over the last few years. In total this will be the ninth game between the sides in the last 17 months. The Bit o’Red have held the upper hand in that time with four victories to Drogheda’s one and three ties.
The teams were drawn together in the semi-finals of last year’s Setanta Sports Cup. The Boynesiders won the first leg 2-0 at Hunky Dorys Park and despite Rovers winning the second back at the Showgrounds 1-0 Drogheda advanced to the final where they lost to Shamrock Rovers. The following week the Showgrounds hosted a 2-2 draw that featured a second half full of drama.
There was another draw the next time the club’s faced off in the league in September before Rovers got the win the following month.
Just two weeks afterwards the sides met in an FAI Cup final which has been described as one of the best of all time. It seen five goals and four in the final 15 minutes of the game that no Rovers or Drogheda fan will ever forget as the Bit o’Red lifted the trophy for the fifth time.
This year there has again been little to choose between the sides. In the other clash in the north-west United recovered from going behind early to take a 1-1 draw. Then in late June in John Coleman’s first game in charge of the club Rovers went two up in the first half in Drogheda with the game finishing 2-1.
April 27th 2013, The Showgrounds
Sligo Rovers 2 Drogheda Utd 2
The Bit o’Red went into the game having made an incredible start to the defence of the league title having won all nine league games played to date. Drogheda were struggling to perform as well as in the previous campaign when they finished runners-up. It was the away side who took the lead mid-way through the first half with Fabio O’Brien shooting home after a set-piece. The champions came back strongly forcing several chances to equalise without beating keeper Gabriel Sava. But on 67 minutes Anthony Elding, enjoying a sensational goalscoring spree to being his time at the Showgrounds, headed the ball to the back of the net in customary fashion following a cross by Aaron Greene. However following an incident while celebrating the goal Rovers would have to play out the rest of the game with ten men after the sending off of former Drogheda player Ross Gaynor. Despite the numerical disadvantage it appeared as though Rovers would come away with all three points when at the beginning of stoppage time the ball came to Aaron Greene in the box and he squeezed the ball in past Sava. However that wasn’t the end of the drama as back came Drogheda again. Sub Graham Rusk picked up the ball at the back post and finished to tie the game once more and end Rovers 100% start to the season.
November 3rd 2013, Aviva Stadium
Sligo Rovers 3 Drogheda Utd 2
Rovers and Drogheda faced off in a famous FAI cup final last year. Rovers had won the cup twice in the last three years while Drogheda had already lost two other cup finals that year. It would be Drogheda that struck first when current Rovers player Paul O’Conor scored from close range inside 15 minutes to put his side into the lead. There were few chances for the Bit o’Red to get back on terms for the rest of the half and the score remained 1-0 at the break. But the second half would produce more than enough excitement. Despite pressing for much of the second half for a way back it would be the 78th minute until an equaliser was found. The catalyst for the comeback was the introduction of Danny North from the bench on 70 minutes. A corner got flicked on by Elding and it fell for North to smash in a great volley and level matters. The goal spurred Rovers on and with five minutes to go what appeared to be a winning goal was found. The man again was Danny North getting on the end of a cleverly worked free-kick by Joseph Ndo to volley in his second. Drogheda were not to be denied so easily however. As the game entered the beginning of eight minutes of added time and with Gavin Peers laying on the ground injured Ryan Brennan got onto a long ball into the box and poked it home to stun the Aviva Stadium. With extra-time looking inevitable Rovers conjured up one more piece of magic to finally decide the tie. Kieran Djilali found a way of getting a cross over from the right where Danny North turned provider this time chesting the ball beautifully into the path of Anthony Elding and the team’s top scorer hit home so send the Sligo sections of the Aviva into delirium and cap a truly remarkable cup final.
June 27th 2014, Hunky Dorys Park
Drogheda United 1 Sligo Rovers 2
A new era began for Rovers began with John Coleman beginning his stint in charge after taking over from Ian Baraclough. It would get off to the best possible start with an excellent first half display giving Rovers all three points. Rovers made a great start with Danny North again proving a thorn in Drogheda’s side as head headed in a cross from Raf Cretaro having shortly before hit the post with a similar chance. Within ten minutes the lead was doubled when Djilali lead a quick counter attack, combined with North and then put the ball home for a 2-0 lead. Towards the end of the half Drogheda worked their way back into the game and got a penalty six minutes before the break. Gavin Brennan scored from the spot to keep the game tight. In the second half Rovers were again on top but opportunities for Cretaro, North and Djilali weren’t taken. A brief period of pressure in the dying minutes gave Drogheda hope but the away side held on for the victory.
The two sides once again come face-to-face in the Showgrounds on Saturday night. It promises to be an exciting affair if the recent history between the two sides is anything to go by.