Rovers come from behind to advance in FAI Cup

Sligo Rovers came from behind to book their FAI Cup quarter-final spot with a hard-earned 3-1 win over UCD in Belfield.

Goals from Kyle Callan-McFadden, Rónán Coughlan and Jesse Devers saw Liam Buckley’s side to victory after Paul Doyle had given the Students an early lead.

In what was a superb advert for League of Ireland football, the game was wide open from the off as both sides looked intent on embracing their traditions of attacking, passing football. 

Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe and Liam Kerrigan exchanged early efforts before a mix-up between Alex Cooper and Sligo keeper Ed McGinty almost saw the left-back head into his own net.

UCD piled the pressure on with a succession of corners and got their reward in the eighth minute when former Sligo player Paul Doyle found the net.

As Sligo struggled to clear, wing-back Evan Weir teed up Doyle on the edge of the box and the midfielder’s shot deflected off Teemu Penninkangas and past the wrong-footed McGinty.

Within eight minutes, Sligo were back on terms as Callan-McFadden met David Cawley’s corner with a towering header that left Lorcan Healy in the UCD goal with no chance.

Junior and Ryan De Vries went close in the minutes that followed, before Coughlan spurned a gilt-edged chance to volley home at the back post following a lovely chip from Cooper.

Sligo drew level when Callan-McFadden met David Cawley’s corner with a towering header

They continued to press and it took a perfectly-timed last ditch tackle from Michael Gallagher to deny De Vries a certain goal.

Though the Bit o’ Red created no fewer than nine clear chances in the first half, it was UCD who who were aggrieved not to have taken a lead into the sheds at half time.

Yoyo Mahdy was one-on-one with McGinty when he was tugged back by Sligo full-back Cooper but referee Adriano Reale thought otherwise and waved away the penalty appeals.

The second half began much as the first with Sligo continuing to create, and Coughlan was wasteful once more as he dragged his shot wide from close range.

The sense it might not be Coughlan’s day was palpable when he was set up De Vries for a free header but once again failed to hit the target.

Sligo drew level when Callan-McFadden met David Cawley’s corner with a towering header.

Rovers moved in front courtesy of a move that was started and finished by Ronan Coughlan.

The dam finally broke with 25 minutes remaining and it was a move started and finished by Coughlan, who finally got the goal to match his all-round play.

The striker showed good strength to set Devers free out wide and sprinted into the box to meet the Mayoman’s cross with a bullet header, though Healy might have done better.

UCD went close to equalising, first through substitute Mark Dignam’s header and then ex-Sligo midfielder Jack Keaney’s free kick, but Sligo wrapped it up with ten minutes left.

Junior worked the ball to Devers on the right hand side of the box and the winger flicked the ball clear of Evan Osam before smashing a low volley into the net.

UCD: Lorcan Healy; Harry McEvoy, Josh Collins, Evan Osam; Michael Gallagher, Jack Keaney, Paul Doyle, Liam Kerrigan, Evan Weir (Michael O’Keane 75); Colm Whelan, Yoyo Mahdy (Mark Dignam 65).

Sligo Rovers: Ed McGinty; Lewis Banks, Kyle Callan-McFadden (Sigitas Olberkis 39 (Darragh Noon 75)), Teemu Penninkangas, Alex Cooper; David Cawley, Niall Morahan, Ryan De Vries; Jesse Devers, Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe, Rónán Coughlan.

Referee: Adriano Reale.