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Sligo's 92nd-minute winner settles enthralling clash against Drogheda

Garry Buckley was the Bit O’Red’s hero at the Showgrounds.

Garry Buckley got on the end of a corner to make it 3-2 in the dying moments to steal a victory for the Bit O’Red.
Garry Buckley got on the end of a corner to make it 3-2 in the dying moments to steal a victory for the Bit O’Red.
Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Sligo Rovers 3

Drogheda United 2

GARRY BUCKLEY’S 92ND-MINUTE goal earned Sligo Rovers all three points against Drogheda United at the Showgrounds on Saturday night after the Louth side came from 2-0 down in what was an enthralling encounter.

David Cawley put the Bit O’Red 2-0 ahead in the early minutes, with Drogheda coming back to 2-2.

It looked like the game was headed for a draw, before Buckley netted in injury time to record a first home win for Rovers since mid-March.

Liam Buckley’s side received a badly-needed confidence boost on Easter Monday when they were 1-0 winners over Finn Harps – their first league win since their last meeting with the Donegal side in mid-March.

Rovers’ home form had dipped recently, earning just one point from three consecutive home games, losing to both Shelbourne and Bohemian and drawing with UCD.

That win against Harps brought the Bit O’Red back into the mix, however, moving them up to fourth place.

Drogheda, travelled to The Showgrounds on Saturday evening just three points behind their opponents, and hadn’t lost in their previous five games.

From those five games, Kevin Doherty’s men picked up four draws and one win – holding the league leaders Derry City to a 1-1 draw on Easter Monday.

Buckley made four changes to the side that beat Finn Harps; Nando Pijnaker, Karl O’Sullivan, Adam McDonnell and Max Mata made way for Garry Buckley, Will Fitzgerald, Greg Bolger and Aidan Keena.

For Kevin Doherty’s side, Georgie Poynton and Darragh Nugent came into the starting XI, while Dylan Grimes and Luke Heeney missed out.

In what was a blistering start to this encounter, the hosts went ahead after 57 seconds. Shortly after getting the game underway, a delightful Fitzgerald through ball came to Cawley who slotted past Long with precision to put the hosts ahead.

Moments later, Cawley doubled his side’s lead. Again getting on the end of Fitzgerald’s ball, the Rovers stalwart beat Long again from close range to make it 2-0.

The Ballina native almost had a hat-trick minutes later, but Long forced his effort onto the post.

It was all action in the first-half, and the Louth side were awarded a penalty following a foul on Ryan Brenna in the box.

Chris Lyons, who played for the Bit O’Red in 2016, beat Ed McGinty with the resulting penalty to halve the deficit.

On 35 minutes, Liam Buckley’s side could have extended their lead as they were awarded a penalty of their own, as Fitzgerald was brought down in the box.

Aidan Keena’s spot-kick, however, was well saved by Long in the Drogs goals, to keep his side in this game.

Shane Blaney and Cawley both tried to extend Rovers’ lead before half-time, but Long and the crossbar ensured the score line remained at 2-1 heading into the break.

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This was a game that had it all, and Drogheda’s comeback was complete on 57 minutes when the unfortunate Blaney turned the ball into his own net, with Lyons forcing the Donegal native into the error.

Despite coming back to level terms, the visitors were reduced to 10 when Evan Weir received his second yellow of the evening after a challenge on Colm Horgan.

It was all Rovers in the dying minutes as they pushed for a winner, and it arrived deep into injury time.

Garry Buckley got on the end of a corner, tucking past Long to make it 3-2 in the dying moments to steal a victory for the Bit O’Red.

It’s a first defeat for Drogs in six games, while the Bit O’Red hold onto fourth spot.

Sligo Rovers: Ed McGinty, Colm Horgan (Lewis Banks, 63), Shane Blaney, Paddy Kirk, Will Fitzgerald, Greg Bolger (Adam McDonnell, 63), Niall Morahan, David Cawley, Mark Byrne (Karl O’Sullivan, 63), Aidan Keena.

Drogheda United: Sam Long, Sean Roughan, Evan Weir, Andrew Quinn (Keith Cowan, 63), Dane Massey, Gary Deegan, Dayle Rooney, Darragh Nugent, Chris Lyons (Luke Heeney, 70), Ryan Brennan (James Clarke, 60), Georgie Poynton.

BTL 5

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Jessica Farry

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