Report: Rovers finish pre-season with win
Sligo Rovers completed pre-season preparations with a 100% record after beating Athlone Town 1-0 at a wet and windy Showgrounds tonight.
The game again had to be played on the astro pitch at the Showgrounds due to the heavy rain which fell on the main pitch during the day.
Owen Heary left out Sander Puri, David Cawley and Kevin Devaney as a precaution due to minor injury problems.
A free-kick awarded to Rovers on the left wing after two minutes led to the first shot of the game from Danny Ledwith. The left-back shot across goal but it went a few yards wide at the far post.
He also had the next opportunity from a set-piece three minutes later. This time on the other side of the pitch the free was rolled short into his path but the wall got in the way forcing the ball for a corner.
On six minutes Athlone made their first opportunity when Marco Chindea cut in from the left and shot towards Ryan Coulter's near post but the keeper was down to save well.
Rovers took the lead after 12 minutes and it was prolific striker Morten Nielsen at it again. Steven Beattie was released down the right wing and he crossed early into the box and Nielsen was running in to score on the slide. It was the Dane's sixth goal in pre-season.
With half an hour gone John Russell found space and supplied a pass to Gary Amrstrong on the left of the box but his shot was down the middle of goals and saved by the keeper.
Shortly after a moment of concern for the Bit o'Red as captain Jeff Henderson appeared to suffer a recurrance of his foot injury and had to be replaced by Gavin Peers.
Steven Beattie had a strong shot from the right looking to find the bottom corner on 36 minutes that Athlone keeper Shane Curran pushed out. The ball then came at Armstrong who hit it first time but there was enough defenders around him to block the effort.
The last chance of the half for the hosts came on 41 minutes again through Armstrong. He created the opening for himself this time running in from the left wing but again Curran was equal to his shot.
The visitors went close in the final minute of the half when Garbhan Coughlan lobbed the ball towards goal and it hit the bar and came back into play, Gavin Peers was there to clear Rovers lines however.
The half-time break seen six changes and the second half failed to produce many opportunities.
On 58 minutes sub Eoin Wearen crossed nicely from the right side of the penalty box with Armstrong running onto it at the far side but he wasn't able to connect with the ball which would have likely resulted in the ball finding the net.
A free-kick was given to Rovers right on the edge of the area just after and it was Keith Ward who took. He tried to place the ball but sent it just wide of the target.
The next attempt at goal of note was again from Ward 20 minutes later when Rovers got a free in a similar position. He this time found the target but it was too central and the keeper made a standing save.
Ward had one more chance to get himself a goal as he had done last week against Finn Harps when Boylan found him from the left, despite hitting the ball well the keeper got two hands behind it to push over the top.
The win leaves the Bit o'Red with a pre-season record of six wins from six with 33 goals scored to just three conceded setting Owen Heary and his team up nicely for the beginning of the n ew season.
That comes next Saturday on March 7th when a strong Cork City team will come to the Showgrounds to open the season at 7:45pm.
Team: Coulter (Brush 45), Boylan, Ledwith (Keane 45), Folan (Dykes 45), Henderson (Peers 31), McManus, Russell (Wearen 45), Armstrong, Cretaro (Ward 45), Nielsen (Corcoran 45), Beattie.