Sligo Rovers defeated Cork City 2-1 on Saturday evening in The Showgrounds to keep hopes of a top-half finish alive in the SSE Airtricity Premier Division.
City’s Kit Elliot missed a first half penalty, before Junior had Sligo in the lead. Substitute Dylan McGlade gave Colin Healy’s side a chance when he levelled the game mid-way through the second half.
But the Bit O’Red were to emerge victorious, Coughlan converting from the spot after Liam Bossin fouled Junior in the Cork area.
Seeking to improve on their recent poor form of just one win in six it was Rovers who fired the first shot.
City goalkeeper Bossin holding on to Ryan De Vries’ effort seven minutes in after the New Zealander found space between the Cork lines.
Knowing defeat and a win for Finn Harps over Bohemains later that night would confirm their relegation, Cork were handed a golden opportunity less than sixty seconds later.
Referee Rob Hennessy adjudged John Mahon to have handled the ball in front of goal as the centre half attempted to block down Alec Byrne’s smashed effort from twenty yards. But Kit Elliot spurned the chance when his penalty was met by a sprawling Ed McGinty in the Rovers goal.
Sligo are one of only two teams the Leesiders have managed to beat in the league this year although their cause was done no favours on eleven minutes when Liam Buckley’s charges struck for the opener.
Henry Ochieng failed to track Junior’s run as he latched onto the end of an Ed McGinty punt toward the Cork box. The ex-Derry striker finishing with aplomb as he tucked the ball beyond the oncoming Liam Bossin.
The remainder of the opening period was pedestrian at best. Byrne blasted over from 25 yards for City, while both Jesse Devers and Ryan Vries fired straight at Bossin at the other end.
Bossin was on hand to keep his side in the fight on 62. The 24-year-old got down to deny Niall Morahan after the Leitrim man slalomed his way past a series of challenges.
The Munster side burst back into this tie on 64. Substitute McGlade’s free-kick from out wide managing to find a way past a forest of legs before sneaking past McGinty.
Cork were pegged back eight minutes later however, when Bossin tangled with Junior following a Sligo corner. Coughlan converting the game’s second spot-kick for his fifth goal of the season.
Cork had a late chance to level proceedings. From a quick throw-in down the left, the ball ended up with Cian Coleman but the midfielder’s hammered effort was pushed away courtesy of some McGinty acrobatics.
Rovers need a host of favours to stop the likes of St Patrick’s Athletic, Waterford and Derry City in the race for the top four, but remain in the hunt ahead of the final game of the season away to Dundalk in two weeks.
Next up is the FAI Cup quarter-final against Derry City on Sunday 1 November at 4pm.
Sligo Rovers: Ed McGinty; Lewis Banks, Garry Buckley, John Mahon, Regan Donelon (Alex Cooper 76); Will Seymore, Niall Morahan; Jesse Devers, Ronan Coughlan, Ryan De Vries (Darragh Noone HT); Junior.
Cork City: Liam Bossin; Joseph Olowu, Jake O’Brien, Kevin O’Connor; Henry Ochieng, Ronan Hurley (Cian Bargary HT); Cian Coleman, Alec Byrne (Dylan McGlade 60), Gearoid Morrisey; Beineon O’Brien-Whitmarsh (Cian Murphy 79), Kit Elliot.
Referee: Rob Hennessy.