Access exclusive podcasts, interviews and analysis with a monthly or annual membership

Become A Member
Dublin: 9°C Saturday 17 April 2021

Title race blown wide open as Dundalk suffer shock loss to Sligo

The reigning champions remain one point ahead of second place Cork City.

Sligo's Raffaele Cretaro celebrates scoring his side's third goal with John Russell.
Sligo's Raffaele Cretaro celebrates scoring his side's third goal with John Russell.
Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Dundalk 0-3 Sligo Rovers

SLIGO ROVERS PUT champions Dundalk to the sword at Oriel Park, with goals from Achille Campion, Phil Roberts and Raff Cretaro blowing the SSE Airtricity League title race wide open ahead of Tuesday’s crunch game between the top two.

Dundalk’s shock defeat, coupled with Cork City’s 5-0 thumping of Galway, means John Caulfield’s side trail the leaders by just one point. Tonight’s results mean a huge swing in goal difference, which now favours the Leesiders.

From start to finish, this wasn’t merely an off-night for Stephen Kenny’s men; it was an unmitigated disaster. With second placed City in action at Eamonn Deacy Park at the same time, this was always going to prove a pivotal 90 minutes in the title race, whatever happened.

The Lilywhites would surely have been content with maintaining their four-point lead over Cork but by half time, the champions were looking at the worst-case scenario for their Saturday night’s work.

It took less than a minute for Sligo to take a shock lead. Brian Gartland’s backpass was rolling into the net after Gary Rogers’ slipped in trying to control it and despite the goalkeeper getting back to scramble clear on the line, French striker Campion was on hand to slot in from close range.

The veteran goalkeeper — in the Republic of Ireland squad as recently as six weeks ago — has had a bad time of it of late. His error gifted Shamrock Rovers a goal here last month and he erred as AZ Alkmaar scored in their Europa League draw days earlier.

For the rest of the first half, Rogers’ touches were met with sarcastic cheers from home and away support. There was nothing he could do about Sligo’s second but in between, Dundalk had much the better of the chances.

Ronan Finn could have had a hat-trick in the 10 minutes that followed Sligo’s opener. His best chance came when David McMillan slipped him in and he shot low across the goal, only to see his effort go just wide.

Dane Massey wasted a golden opportunity when played in by the inventive Daryl Horgan but Sligo were a threat too. Mick Leahy headed over from John Russell’s good delivery. And despite Dundalk’s relative dominance, Rovers’ would go 2-0 up on 37 minutes.

Roberts was only on the pitch five minutes after replacing the injured Campion and the 22-year-old finished emphatically. When Dundalk gave away possession in midfield, Cretaro found the striker and Gartland stood off, allowing the Londoner to drive a right-foot shot across Rogers and in.

Straight after the restart, Roberts tested Rogers again, but this time the stopper could get to the angled shot. The champions struggled to create anything of note. They looked like they had eyes firmly fixed on the visit of Cork. Now, that game is even more significant than before — it that were even possible.

Be part
of the team

Access exclusive podcasts, interviews and analysis with a monthly or annual membership.

Become a Member

When Liam Martin was shown a harsh straight red card for tripping up Sean Gannon who was breaking away, it looked like the game was turning. It didn’t. Soon after, Raffaele Cretaro scored the goal of the game.

The veteran left Stephen O’Donnell on the deck before firing a powerful shot past Rogers and in. And even with a man down, Sligo never looked flustered. There was no Dundalk rally. Sligo were quicker, smarter and better in every department. It’s not often you can say that of visitors to Oriel.

DUNDALK: Gary Rogers, Sean Gannon, Brian Gartland (Dean Shiels, 72), Andy Boyle, Dane Massey, Chris Shields (Patrick McEleney, 46), Stephen O’Donnell, Darren Meenan (John Mountney, 62), Ronan Finn, Daryl Horgan, David McMillan.

Subs Not Used: Gabriel Sava, Shane Grimes, Paddy Barratt, Ciaran o’Connor.

SLIGO ROVERS: Ciaran Nugent, Tobi-Adebayo Rowling, Mick Leahy, Pat McCann, Gary Boylan, Jimmy Keohane, Craig Roddan, Raff Cretaro, John Russell (Daniel Kearns, 67), Liam Martin, Achille Campion (Phil Roberts, 32).

Subs Not Used: Regan Donelan, Kieran Sadlier, Jason Hunt, Mikey Place, Mark Hannon.

REFEREE: Ben Connolly (Dublin)

The42 is on Snapchat! Tap the button below on your phone to add!

Southgate passes first test as England earn straightforward victory>

15 months after sacking by 2016 Premier League winners, Pearson leaves Derby>

About the author:

Barry Landy

Read next: