SSE Airtricity League Premier Division
Finn Harps 2, Sligo Rovers 1
SLIGO Rovers’ stuttering season took another step backwards when they lost 2-1 to a stubborn Finn Harps at Finn Park, Ballybofey, last Saturday.
The visitors, for whom Raffaele Cretaro scored his first goal of the season, needlessly conceded a 92nd minute penalty from which Harps netted the winner. This resulted in a fruitless northwest derby that would have yielded a useful away point if it had ended 1-1.
Tobi Adebayo-Rowling was penalised for a push on Ciaran O’Connor – with the striker looking unlikely to reach Ethan Boyle’s cross – and although O’Connor’s spot-kick effort was saved by Micheál Schlingermann, the striker seized on the rebound to break Rovers’ hearts.
Rovers remain in the bottom three in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division and have slipped from 10th to 11th position. They are away to bottom of the table Galway United this Friday in a Connacht derby at Eamonn Deacy Park (kick-off 7.45pm)
Last Saturday’s scrappy encounter made even more frustrating by Harps’ dogged approach and it was no surprise that the first-half at Ballybofey ended scoreless.
The second-half was a bit better and when Rovers broke the deadlock in the 59th minute it seemed that the good result of the previous weekend, when they earned their first win in five games, was being built on.
John Russell’s through ball was perfect and so was Raffaele Cretaro’s finish – the veteran striker swept the ball past Ciaran Gallagher for what was Rovers sixth goal in six games.
But the lead only lasted nine minutes because Harps levelled with a messy – and possibly preventable goal – after 68 minutes.
Jonny Bonner’s free-kick delivery into the Rovers penalty area was initially headed on by Ethan Boyle and in the subsequent confusion Killian Cantwell got the decisive touch.
Harps, who almost scored with a superb 55th effort from Jonny Bonner that brought the best out of Micheál Schlingermann, created further chances to go in front before their late winner.
Rovers, with Micheál Schlingermann back in goal and Liam Martin again filling the left-back berth, brought on forwards Matty Stevens and Mikey Place in the second-half in an effort to get back into proceedings.
Finn Harps: Ciaran Gallagher; Damien McNulty (Eddie Dsane 66), Killian Cantwell, Ciaran Coll (c), Gareth Harkin; Caolan McAteer, Ethan Boyle, Jonny Bonner, Danny Morrissey (Mickey Funston 90+4); Sean Houston; Ciaran O’Connor
Subs not used: Packie Mailey, Tommy McMonagle, BJ Banda, Simon McGlynn, Harry Doherty (gk)
Sligo Rovers: Micheál Schlingermann; Tobi Adebayo-Rowling, Michael Leahy, Kyle Callan-McFadden, Liam Martin; John Russell, Chris Kenny, Craig Roddan (c), Kieran Sadlier; Raffaele Cretaro (Mikey Place 86), Jonah Ayunga (Matty Stevens 71)
Subs not used: Shaun Patton (gk), Daniel Kearns, Gary Boylan, John Mahon, Jack Keaney
Referee: Arnold Hunter