Report: Rovers 3-1 UCD

Sligo Rovers got back to winning ways at The Showgrounds on Saturday night with a 3-1 win over UCD.

Manager John Russell made four changes to the starting team that drew with Drogheda United last weekend with John Mahon (knock), Stefan Radosavljevic, Frank Liivak and Lukas Browning all replaced by James Finnerty, making his Rovers debut, Niall Morahan, Kailin Barlow and Johan Brannefalk who made his first start since recovering from his recent ankle injury.

The Bit O’ Red started brightly and Kailin Barlow was denied by the alert Kian Moore in the UCD goal who got down well to deny him after good work by Max Mata.

Rovers pressure paid off after just five minutes when Barlow’s in swinging corner was met by Mata who powered home a header at the near post.

It was all Rovers for the rest of the half and Fabrice Hartmann and Barlow were causing all sorts of problems for the Students who gave away a number of corners as they looked to keep Rovers out.

On 25 minutes, the home side’s pressure paid off as Nando Pijnaker swept a long range diagonal pass to Hartmann on the ride hand side. The German took it down on his chest and played Barlow in down the line. Barlow’s reverse pass found Hartmann again who beat two players and cut inside on his left foot and stroked it into the far corner to double Rovers’ lead.

Rovers looked for a third goal through the likes of Mata, Hartmann and Barlow but it was UCD who got the next goal on the stroke of half time, totally against the run of play.

A free kick from the left was punched away by Luke McNicholas but the ball fell for Mark Dignam on the edge of the box who fired into the bottom corner via a deflection, meaning it was a narrow lead for Rovers at half time.

The second half was a slightly slower pace than the first from Rovers but the hosts were always in pretty good control and Hartmann went close on 66 minutes with a long dribble down the right after being played in by Barlow. The German’s shot went wide.

Niall Morahan went close soon after with a side footed strike from the edge of the box but it was Hartmann who made it three just two minutes later.

Johan Brannefalk played the ball out to him on the right. He drifted inside on his left foot, going past the UCD defenders before shooting toward goal. The ball looped over Kian Moore and into the corner to seal the win for Rovers.

It was Hartmann’s last involvement in a Man of the Match display as he was replaced by Frank Liivak soon after.

David Cawley was introduced for his first appearance of the season along with Lukas Browning, replacing Brannefalk and the impressive Barlow for the last ten minutes and Stefan Radosavljevic was brought on after 87 minutes for Max Mata who received a standing ovation from the home supporters.

The game finished 3-1 to Rovers who now face two away games next Friday and Monday against Shamrock Rovers and St. Patrick’s Athletic respectively.