Report - Rovers 3-2 Shamrock Rovers
Sligo Rovers closed the gap on fourth placed Shamrock Rovers in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division as the Bit O'Red recorded a deserved 3-2 win over the Hoops at the Showgrounds.
The Dublin side raced into the lead on 14 minutes courtesy of a Sean Boyd strike but Rovers new boy Achille Campion levelled the game just short of the half-time whistle. John Russell netted his first of the season to give Rovers the advantage on 54 while Raffaele Cretaro lengthened the margin on 77.
It was the Showgrounds side who shaded the game as a whole, but the Hoops pushed their rivals to the very end as Aaron Dobbs made it 3-2 with seven minutes remaining.
The win sees the Bit O'Red move to within two points of the green and white, having played two more games than the Dubliners.
Rovers were first to go close as they looked to keep their recent good form intact.
David Webster upended the lively Liam Martin 25 yards from goal with seven minutes elapsed. Campion, on his home debut, saw his curling right footed effort from the resulting set piece palmed away by the assured Craig Hyland.
Rovers stalwart Gavin Peers struck the side netting shortly after. But it was the Hoops, hunting for their twelfth league victory of the season who captured the lead just short of the quarter hour with their only shot at goal of the half.
The attentive Pat Cregg slipped the ball through to Boyd who executed the deftest of touches to clip the ball over Micheál Schlingermann for his second league goal of the year.
The away side restricted Rovers' diamond therefore forcing Dave Robertson's charges to go long during the remainder of a scrappy first period. And it was as a result of a long ball from the boot of Peers that Campion went close again from a set piece. Again, it was Webster who fouled the Frenchman at the edge of the area as he took the ball down, but this time Campion's free-kick sailed narrowly wide of the post although Hyland looked like he had it covered.
The former Port Vale striker enjoyed more success with his next effort at goal in injury time at the end of the half as Rovers levelled the game.
Russell and Cretaro combined to send Kieran Sadlier down the right. The Republic of Ireland youth, under close scrutiny of the dogged Robert Cornwall, whipped in a pacey ball which Campion headed past Hyland at the back post for his second goal in three outings.
Campion had the ball in the net in the third minute of the second half, but the strike was disallowed by referee's assistant Trevor Cotter as Campion had strayed into an offside position.
Rovers were not be denied on 64 however as they went ahead through Russell. The Galway man found Tobi Adebayo-Rowling out wide right. Hyland came to meet the young full back's cross but could only punch as far as the waiting Russell who took one touch before firing the ball low and hard past the back-peddling goalkeeper.
Hyland held on to two snapshots from Sadlier in quick succession on the hour mark as the Connaught men looked to stretch their lead.
Shamrock Rovers interim boss Stephen Bradley introduced both Dobbs and Dean Clarke to a limp Hoops attack in an attempt to level the contest. But it was the westerners who doubled their advantage on 77.
Martin linked with Sadlier who played a well weighted ball into the path of Cretaro who, at the second time of asking slotted past Hyland from inside the Hoops area.
Sligo were made to sweat as the Dubliners pulled one back seven minutes from time. Clarke nodded Simon Madden's cross towards fellow sub Dobbs who forced the ball across the line despite the best intentions of Jimmy Keohane.
It was two Rovers subs who combined three minutes later as the game should have been put to bed. Mikey Place teeing up Phil Roberts who could only drag the ball across the face of Hyland's goal.
Sligo Rovers: Micheál Schlingermann; Tobi Adebayo-Rowling, Gavin Peers, Michael Leahy, Jimmy Keohane; Kieran Sadlier, John Russell (Gary Boylan 87), Craig Roddan, LIam Martin; Raffaele Cretaro (Mikey Place 88); Achille Campion (Phil Roberts 86).
Shamrock Rovers: Craig Hyland; Simon Madden, David O'Connor, David Webster, Robert Cornwall; Trevor Clarke, Patrick Cregg, Stephen McPhail, Brandon Miele (Gary McCabe 55); Sean Boyd (Dean Clarke 61), Gary Shaw (Aaron Dobbs 75).
Referee: Graham Kelly.