by Robert O'Reilly
Two goals in the opening 25 minutes were enough for Sligo Rovers to defeat ten man Drogheda United 2-1 in a spirited contest at United Park.
Goals from Danny North and Kieran Djilali had Sligo in a commanding position before Gavin Brennan pulled one back from the penalty spot but United had to play the entire second half a man less as Paul Andrews was dismissed following an altercation with North.
The Bit o’Red’s recent injury woes were evident as they named only four players on the bench while Drogheda caretaker boss Darius Kierans made a total of six changes from the team that lost 6-0 at the hands of bottom side Athlone Town a fortnight ago.
Sligo started in the ascendancy and North came close to opening the scoring for Rovers on ten minutes as his audacious flick on from Djilali’s delivery crashed off the bar.
The visitors took the lead moments later as another attack from the right saw Raffaele Creatro cross for North and the striker made no mistake this time as he headed past Schlingermann at the near post.
It was 2-0 soon after as a Drogheda corner kick quickly turned into a Sligo counter attack as Djilali released North down the left and the striker cut inside two United defenders before returning the ball to the winger who found the far corner of the goal.
Free-flowing football from a dominant Rovers almost resulted in number three as Djilali picked up the ball in the centre circle and his pass found the run of David Cawley but the midfielder’s low cross was diverted behind by Stephen Maher with Cretaro lurking.
United were awarded a penalty against the run of play on 38 minutes for a shirt tug on Declan O’Brien and Gavin Brennan sent Gary Rogers the wrong way to give United a foothold in the game.
Tensions boiled over on the stroke of halftime as Andrews was booked for the home side following a coming together with North but the defender then lashed out at the striker and he received his marching orders while North was only booked for his involvement.
Sligo started the second period intent on capitalising on their one-man advantage and Cawley was afforded plenty of space in midfield as he played North through on goal but the striker’s left foot drive was straight into the grateful hands of Schlingermann.
The Drogheda keeper was tested again on 65 minutes as sublime one touch play between Djilali and John Russell cut through the Drogheda defence but the former should have done better when presented with a clear shot on goal.
The Bit o’Red squandered a three on one breakaway in the latter stages of the game as Djilali, North and Russell couldn’t decide between themselves who to shoot allowing Drogheda captain Shane Grimes enough time to intervene.
Schlingermann came to United’s rescue again in the final minute of normal time as he stopped Russell’s tame shot but it mattered little as Sligo held on for their first win in four league games.
As for United, caretaker manager Kierans will be pleased with his side’s display but after six straight defeats in the league, he will know that it is results rather than performances that Drogheda need now.
by Robert O'Reilly
There will be two new managers on show at United Park this Friday as Drogheda United host Sligo Rovers in the SSE Airtricity League, kick-off 7.45pm.
Robbie Horgan parted company with United last week with Darius Kierans placed in temporary charge while the Bit o’Red have named former Accrington Stanley manager John Coleman as their new boss following Ian Baraclough’s surprise departure.
Kierans will be hoping for better success this time around having failed to keep Drogheda in the premier division during his five months in charge back in 2010.
He will be looking to halt a horrendous run of form that has seen the club suffer eleven defeats in their last twelve league games, leaving the Drogs only a point above UCD in the relegation playoff position.
United will be without Alan McNally for Friday’s clash as the defender serves a one-match suspension while Ciaran McGuigan will require a late fitness test.
As for Sligo, the SSE Airtricity League champions of 2012 sit a huge 17 points behind leaders Dundalk at the halfway point of the season.
Despite a Setanta Cup triumph back in May, Rovers have struggled in the league all season which was highlighted by consecutive defeats to both Shamrock Rovers and Dundalk before being held by Derry City before the break.
Coleman will be without several key players as Evan McMillan and Eric Odhiambo miss out due to suspension while Jeff Henderson, Joseph Ndo, Alan Keane and Gavin Peers are ruled out because of injury.
The two sides played out a 1-1 draw earlier in the campaign at the Showgrounds where the game was overshadowed by a serious injury to Drogheda player Austin McCann which ended the midfielder’s season.
Speaking on Thursday, Kierans said that he is relishing the task of managing United once again and is confident that results will improve.
“I’m really looking forward to the game. The boys have worked hard in training since the break and the preparation has been perfect. We are looking for a reaction based off the last couple of months as both results and performances haven’t been acceptable. The players are keen to get out there and work hard for the club.
“Sligo will be looking to impress especially considering that they have a new manager in charge. They have a squad that was put together to win the league and despite their indifferent results, they have quality all the way through. It is going to be a difficult game for us but we need to concentrate on ourselves and not show Sligo too much respect.
“My main aim is to stop the rot and help turn things around. A minus goal difference of 29 is unacceptable so we have to keep things tight at the back early on but this is a team that went unbeaten for the first seven games of the season. The ability is there and it is up to the team to show that.”
Cathal Brady (Carl Walshe 69)
Paul Crowley (Sean O’Connor 80)
Danny North (Aaron Greene 90)
Gavin Brennan Pen. 38
Danny North 14
Kieran Djilali 22
Paul Andrews (booked/sent off 45)
Declan O’Brien (45)
Michael Daly (73)
Kalen Spillane (38)
Ross Gaynor (42)
Danny North (45)
Danny Ledwith (83)