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'I don't think Cork beat us, we beat ourselves' - Lyttle rues costly errors

Sligo Rovers suffered a 4-1 defeat at home to champions Cork City last night in the Premier Division.

Sligo Rovers manager Gerard Lyttle.
Sligo Rovers manager Gerard Lyttle.
Image: Bryan Keane/INPHO

SLIGO ROVERS MANAGER Gerard Lyttle reckons his side were the architects of their own downfall in last night’s SSE Airtricity League Premier Division meeting with Cork City.

Having gone into the game on a high following last Friday’s 2-1 victory over Derry City, Rovers were brought crashing back to earth with a 4-1 defeat to the champions at the Showgrounds.

“I don’t think Cork beat us, we beat ourselves,” Lyttle said afterwards. “We started off actually in the first couple of minutes on the front foot, and then after that it was mistakes that cost us the game.”

Returning from a one-game ban as a result of the red card he received in the opening game of the season against St Patrick’s Athletic, Graham Cummins was the hero for City in Sligo as he netted a hat-trick. Former Sligo Rovers winger Kieran Sadlier scored from the penalty spot for the Leesiders. Adam Morgan converted a penalty for the hosts.

John Caulfield’s side were 2-0 in front after 11 minutes thanks to a header from Cummins and a spot-kick from Sadlier, which was awarded by referee Derek Tomney after Seamus Sharkey was deemed to have fouled Cummins in the box.

Inside the opening minute of the second half, Cummins scored his second after intercepting Kyle Callan-McFadden’s back-pass. On the hour-mark, former Liverpool striker Morgan scored for the second game in a row after Steven Beattie was penalised for fouling Caolan McAleer.

Shortly after Sligo’s Rhys McCabe was dismissed for dissent in the 89th minute, Cummins completed his hat-trick on the stroke of full-time when he tucked away Shane Grifin’s cross.

Graham Cummins celebrates after scoring a goal Cork City striker Graham Cummins. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

“Christmas came early for Cork tonight,” said Lyttle. “It was very disappointing from our point of view in terms of the goals we conceded. We tried to have a go at Cork in the second half but it just wasn’t enough. When you’re playing against the league champions and you gift them goals, you have no chance. It’s hard enough playing them without giving them opportunities.

“We’re very disappointed. We spoke before the game about being on it and being focused, and concentration levels have to be high when you’re playing against good players. Tonight obviously our concentration let us down.”

He added: “It might sound stupid but, watching the game from the side, I think in the second half we were the better team. We had a few chances. Our decision-making maybe in the final third wasn’t great.

“To gift them goals is soul-destroying at times when you’ve worked so hard at things. I honestly believed that we would get something from the game. I felt confident that we could get something. When you go 2-0 down inside the first 15 minutes, your back is against the wall and players are on edge and they start doing silly things.”

Last night’s result leaves Sligo with one win and two defeats from their opening three games in the 2018 season, all of which were played at home due to the unavailability of Derry City’s Brandywell Stadium for last weekend’s meeting of the two clubs.

The Bit O’ Red started their campaign with a 1-0 defeat to Limerick. They’ll aim to bounce back with Friday’s trip to St Patrick’s Athletic, while Cork City host Bohemians. The defending champions are setting the early pace, with wins over St Pat’s and Waterford preceding last night’s victory at the Showgrounds.

John Caulfield before the game Cork City manager John Caulfield. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

“It’s one step forward, two steps back,” said Lyttle. “After such a good performance and a good three points against Derry, we’ve come here with all the hype but it wasn’t to be. But we’ll move on. Cork got their three points. Did they overly deserve it? Probably slightly because we’ve given it to them, but they haven’t had to work terribly hard for their goals.”

Cork City manager John Caulfield felt his side delivered a “dominant” display, and he was delighted to pick up all three points against a side who he had failed to get the better of in seven of his previous 12 attempts since taking over in 2014.

“Sligo has been a difficult venue for us and will be for many teams this year,” said Caulfield. “I’m sure it’ll be the same when we come back here later in the season. It’s great to get out with another win and to score four goals. We’ve said since the start of the season that we feel there are goals in this team.”

– Additional reporting by Jessica Farry 

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