Match report: Rovers beat Galway in friendly

Sligo Rovers recorded a 1-0 win over Galway United last Sunday in their first friendly game ahead of the resumption of the SSE Airtricity League season.

The match was played behind closed doors in The Showgrounds.

Rovers were without nine players for the match. Teemu Penninkangas, Will Seymore, Ryan De Vries, Alex Cooper and Lewis Banks are quarantining until Wednesday, while John Mahon, Johnny Dunleavy, Danny Kane and Ronan Murray are injured.

Garry Buckley played at centre-half for the Bit O’ Red – the same role in which he played in the match before the league was shutdown against Shamrock Rovers.

Fit again Regan Donelon played at left-back, while Scott Lynch was at right-back.

Another IT Sligo student, Mark Byrne, started on the left side for Rovers.

Galway started the half the better but it was the home side that created the most chances in the first period.

Darragh Noone

In the 14th minute Byrne played the ball down the left side for Coughlan. The striker held his run to remain onside and checked back onto his right side, but the shot was blocked. Jesse Devers took possession, beat his man and crossed for Byrne, but Galway goalkeeper Kevin Horgan was equal to the header.

Five minutes later David Cawley chipped the ball over the top for Coughlan who attempted to lob Horgan in the goal, however his effort went wide of the post as Rovers attacked the Pet Stop stand.

Cawley teed up Darragh Noone when the Mayo man picked up the loose ball from a set piece. Noone pointed to where he wanted the ball 15 yards from goal and it was a fine pass by his fellow midfielder. The shot was just over the crossbar.

The best move of the half came on 22 minutes as Callan-McFadden played a confident pass from halfway which Noone turned and ran towards goal. He found Byrne on the left side, surrounded by Galway players, with Donelon running on to support. The left-back gave it to Coughlan on the edge of the box, who spun and shot and at a second attempt sent an overhead kick just above the crossbar.

Francely Lomboto sent a ball across the Rovers six yard area on 33 minutes as Galway threatened on the break.

Farragher headed a Jesse Devers cross out for a corner when Noone and Coughlan were waiting at the back post three minutes later.

Horgan had to be alert to tip over Donelon’s free-kick which was a cross aimed towards goal.

Niall Morahan also started for Rovers

The best opening of the half came down the right side again with Devers. He slid the ball across the area which couldn’t get a touch on. A Galway defender looked to have made contact with the Rovers striker, but the referee waved play on.

Rovers spent the half-time break on the pitch for social-distancing reasons. Galway made eight changes for the second half, including former Bit O’ Red players Michael Schlingermann and Vinny Faherty.

Darragh Noone was pushing further up the field for Rovers. Galway had the best opening of the a quiet first 15 minutes of the second period.

Carlton Ubaezuonu was causing some problems on the left side and he produced a lovely cross for Faherty to head over. The veteran striker was furious with himself as it was a glaring opening.

Rovers would then go ahead. The move start at the back as Scott Lynch sent it down the channel, Noone showed good composure to see Cawley who dinked it over the United backline for Devers in space.

The former Galway player sent in a sublime first-time cross for Mark Byrne to come rushing on to and he beat Schlingermann from close range for his first senior goal.

Darren Collins of the Under-19s and Darragh Reilly – an Under-17 player and former captain of the Republic of Ireland Under-16s, were introduced for Devers and Lynch on 62 minutes.

Reilly slotted in at right-back to make his senior debut at just 16 years of age.

There was little other incident in the second period. Garry Buckley shot from 25 yards which was comfortable for Schlingermann. Rovers were in retreat for the closing stages and had a very youthful side – as well as tiring – with Liam Buckley unable to make wholesale changes due to so many absentees.

Ronan Coughlan rises for a header

The lively Byrne played a brilliant ball through for Coughlan, who saw his attempt to beat the final man thwarted as it was sent out for a corner which Buckley just missed out on.  

Schlingermann was injured later on, hobbling on his ankle, so striker Faherty had to go in goal for United for the closing stages as they finished with 10 men.

The teams could meet again in this pre-season, with Liam Buckley’s men set to play two more games.

Sligo Rovers team: Ed McGinty, Scott Lynch (Darragh Reilly 62), Garry Buckley (Johnny Dunleavy 75), Kyle Callan-McFadden, Regan Donelon; David Cawley (Kailin Barlow 81), Niall Morahan, Darragh Noone; Mark Byrne, Jesse Devers (Darren Collins 62); Ronan Coughlan.