Power double sees Rovers beat Shams

Sligo Rovers delivered the latest blow to Shamrock Rovers’ hopes of a fifth title in a row as former Hoops winger Simon Power struck twice in the space of ten minutes to see off his old side.

Sprung from the bench, Power marked his return from injury with a glorious second half double to sentence the Dubliners to their second defeat on the bounce. While for Sligo, this was their first win in three.  

Seeking to close the ten point gap between themselves and the leading pair of Shels and Derry, Hoops boss Stephen Bradley made four changes from their defeat to St Pat’s. Leoh Pohls returned between the posts, while Gary O’Neill, Richie Towell and Conan Noonan all started having missed the defeat to St Pat’s before the summer break. 

Sligo boss John Russell was boosted by the return of authoritative centre half Nando Pijnaker and skilful winger Power to the match day squad. Pijnaker started having missed the last 13 games due to a rib injury, while Power made the bench against his old employers following his return from a groin issue. Pijnaker was one of two changes with Wilson Waweru the second swap, replacing Kailin Barlow who started the defeat to Dundalk at Oriel Park two weeks ago. 

A riveting first half produced a catalogue of chances at either end. 

Both Towell and Graham Burke went close in the opening ten minutes as the visitors impressed early on. Towell’s full-volley fizzed past Ed McGinty’s post as the Sligo defence stood still in expectation of an offside flag. While Burke dragged an effort across goal after Pijanker’s last ditch block on Johnny Kenny deflected the ball towards Burke. 

Sligo winger Fabrice Hartmann is due to return to parent club RB Leipzig next week and on his final appearance for the club, he forced Hoops net minder Pohls into a smart save with his feet following Hartmann’s placed effort from the angle.

The hosts had their own purple patch mid-way through the second half. Ellis Chapman’s speculative effort skimmed Pohls crossbar on 13 minutes. While Will Fitzgerald went close twice in quick succession nine minutes later. 

Facing his boyhood club, Kenny looked like he would continue his recent goal-scoring spree on 24 minutes. The Riverstown native taking a Gary O’Neill through ball into his stride but could only drag his placed shot wide of McGinty’s goal.

The leaping Hartmann again tested Pohls before the interval with a header from a Fitzgerald cross to finish off a frantic opening 45. While McGinty saved Ollie Denham’s blushes early in the second half when the latter made a mess of an attempted back-pass allowing Kenny to take possession. McGinty had different ideas however as he spread himself wide to deny the Celtic loanee. 

Pohls got a finger-tip to Hartmann’s drive from 30 yards after the German had turned inside just short of the hour.  

Struggling to create much at this stage, Bradley sent on both Aaron McEneff and Jack Byrne while the experienced Aaron Greene was introduced shortly after. But it was a move from the Sligo bench that changed this game.

Substitute Power was less than four minutes on the pitch when he foraged a way to the end line before smacking a low drive beyond Pohls who probably should have done better in his attempts to keep out the Wicklow man.  

There was nothing the floundering Pohls could do about Power’s second seven from time. Power skipping his way past a Hoops defender before sending a sumptuous, twisting effort with the outside of his boot past the helpless keeper.  

Sligo Rovers: Ed McGinty; JR Wilson, Nando Pijnaker, Ollie Denham, Reece Hutchinson; Ellis Chapman (Kalin Barlow 70), Niall Morahan, Connor Malley; Will Fitzgerald (Owen Elding 94), Fabrice Hartmann (Simon Power 70); Wilson Waweru (Stefan Radosavljevic 78). 

Shamrock Rovers: Leon Pohls; Josh Honahan, Roberto Lopes, Darragh Nugent; Richie Towell (Trevor Clarke 77), Markus Poom; Gary O’Neill (Sean Hoare 77), Dylan Watts (Aaron McEneff 67), Conan Noonan (Jack Byrne 67) ; Graham Burke (Aaron Greene 77); Johnny Kenny. 

Referee: Eoghan O’Shea

Attendance: 3,187