The long-awaited testimonial of Sligo Rovers legend Gavin Peers took place yesterday (Wednesday) and certainly didn’t disappoint as they held Portsmouth to a 3-3 draw.
The first half saw Paul Cook’s men take a 3-0 lead in to half-time against a Rovers team consisting of many fan favourites of the past including Joseph Ndo, Danny Ventre and Keith Foy, but a reshuffled second-half team bounced back in style through a Kieran Sadlier brace and a Peers penalty.
Portsmouth took the lead after just nine minutes as Conor Chaplin broke down the right before teeing up Gary Roberts for a simple finish from point-black range.
It was soon a case of role reversal as Roberts saw his route to goal blocked by Ciaran Kelly, but Chaplin was on hand to pounce on a loose ball score into an empty net.
Former Pompey man Kieran Djilali had Rovers best chance of the first-half after 20 minutes, but his effort on goal was deflected away for a corner by Christian Burgess.
With five minutes remaining until the break, Portsmouth struck again through Chaplin as he found himself one-on-one with Kelly and made no mistake again as he fired past the FAI Cup hero.
There was wholesale changes for The Bit O’Red going into the second-half, as the current flock of Rovers players were given 45 minutes, including new signing Daniel Kearns.
Rovers showed their intent with just a couple of minutes on the clock when Phil Roberts saw a shot go narrowly over the bar.
Kieran Sadlier done well to fashion a clear-cut chance when he got in behind the defence, but Eric Grimes was equal to his effort. The ball came straight back to the ex-Peterborough winger who could only hit the side netting on this occasion.
Rovers were awarded a penalty as the game entered its final 20 minutes after Roberts was pushed in the box. Being a testimonial, it is an unwritten rule that the man of the night steps up to take a penalty, and Gavin Peers duly delivered with his final kick of the night as he slotted the ball low into the bottom right corner.
One soon became two when Cretaro took the ball around Grimes and chased down what looked to be a hopeless ball, but the forward kept it alive to square the ball to Sadlier who bundled it home from a yard out.
Rovers completed their comeback with two minutes remaining. Mikey Place saw a shot parried by Grimes, but he could only turn it as far as Sadlier who was never going to miss with the goal at his mercy.