David Cawley’s late goal was not enough as Sligo Rovers were beaten by St Patrick’s Athletic.
Chris Forrester and a Mikey Drennan penalty had given the Saints the advantage. Rovers were impressive for periods in the second half but couldn’t find the net until Cawley’s goal two minutes from time.
A generally dour opening to the game was thankfully lifted nine minutes later with a moment of inspiration from Forrester.
Sligo central defender John Mahon miscontrolled a long ball over the top with his chest. It ran loose into the path of Forrester who nonchalantly lobbed the ball over ‘keeper Mitchell Beeney for his first goal for the club since his cross channel return.
The visitors were stretched six minutes later as Dave Webster’s ball down the right gave Drennan a run. The striker bustled his way past Lewis Banks to bring a save with his body from Beeney.
Pat’s had their second when Drennan was granted a fortuitous penalty on 24 minutes.
Though Forrester was fouled following a clever dribble, referee Rob Hennessy played an advantage. The ball broke for Conor Clifford whose low drive sent Beeney diving down to the right corner of his goal to bat the shot away.
The move of the half from St Pat’s was then thwarted by frantic defending a minute before the interval.
Drennan, skipper Ian Bermingham and Clifford were all involved before Forrester’s shot was bravely blocked by Rovers left-back Banks.
With Kris Twardeck on from the restart, Sligo had a little more about them, striker Romeo Parkes audaciously shooting off target from close to the halfway line minutes in.
St Patrick’s soon regained control, however, with the hardworking Clifford rifling a shot narrowly over Beeney’s crossbar just before the hour.
Beeney was worked 12 minutes later by the impressive Forrester confidently hitting a first time volley from distance.
Gary Shaw was then inches from extending St Patrick’s winning margin on 81 minutes, his header from Clifford’s cross shaving the bar.
Despite that, St Pat’s had to endure a nervous finish when Sligo skipper David Cawley drilled home from close range following Banks’ assist on 88 minutes for the visitors’ consolation.
St Patrick’s Athletic: Brendan Clarke; Dave Webster, Ciaran Kelly, Lee Desmond; Simon Madden, Chris Forrester (Cian Coleman 79), Rhys McCabe, Conor Clifford, Ian Bermingham; Gary Shaw (Jake Walker 90+2), Mikey Drennan.
Sligo Rovers: Mitchell Beeney; John Dunleavy, Dante Leverock, John Mahon, Lewis Banks; Niall Morahan (Kris Twardeck h-t), David Cawley; Jack Keaney, Daryl Fordyce (Liam Kerrigan 69), Ronan Coughlan; Romeo Parkes.
Referee: Rob Hennessy (Clare).