Shelbourne manager Damien Duff (file pic). Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Shelbourne continue fine start to campaign with win at Sligo Rovers

John O’Sullivan’s first-half goal separated the sides at The Showgrounds.

Sligo Rovers 0

Shelbourne 1

Jessica Farry reports from The Showgrounds

SHELBOURNE CONTINUED THEIR fine start to the season with a 1-0 victory over Sligo Rovers at The Showgrounds.

John O’Sullivan’s first-half goal was the difference between the two sides, with Shelbourne winning their second game on the bounce.

It meant a first defeat of the season for the Bit O’Red, who are yet to win a game.

Both sides had started the season positively, but Shelbourne have been a big talking point this week following their win over league champions Shamrock Rovers at Tolka Park last week.

The Bit O’Red have drawn their opening two games, with the new-look Sligo Rovers showing good signs so far.

Although there was heavy snow in Sligo on Friday morning, this fixture was never in doubt despite some of the away fans’ buses being cancelled earlier on due to concerns over the road conditions.

John Russell made two changes to his side, former Shelbourne defender JR Wilson missed out through injury, while Fabrice Hartmann dropped to the bench.

Former Newcastle defender Charlie Wiggett made his first start, as did striker Wilson Waweru.

Liam Burt, meanwhile, returned to the visitors’ starting 11 having missed last week’s game due to his loan agreement from Shamrock Rovers.

Mark Coyle, who scored a cracker against the Hoops last week, was first to test Ed McGinty after three minutes as he worked his way towards the Sligo goals.

The visitors didn’t have to wait long for a goal, taking the lead after 13 minutes.

A well worked corner from the North Dublin side came to Sean Gannon, the former Shamrock Rovers man volleying it towards goal.

And O’Sullivan was on hand to get a slight touch, taking it past McGinty for 1-0.

Liam Burt almost forced a second Shels goal when he put pressure on McGinty from Ollie Denham’s back-pass.

But, the Oxford loanee saved his own blushes when he did enough to get hold of the ball as he got in a tangle with Burt.

The hosts thought they had equalised on 30 minutes, only for the lineman’s flag to deny them.

Hutchinson’s cross in looked like it was headed in by Waweru, and while referee Declan Toland appeared to give the goal, his lineman had raised the flag.

The hosts put more pressure on their opponents towards the end of the first half, with Waweru drawing Conor Kearns out of his box to try to make a clearance.

Waweru held on to possession but with the goal left unmanned, Ellis Chapman just dragged the shot wide.

A big save from Ed McGinty shortly after the hour mark denied Will Jarvis, with JJ Lunney’s follow-up well held by the Rovers keeper.

It should have been 2-0 to the Dubliners on 71 minutes as Ollie Denham’s fresh air kick allowed John Martin through, but a fine challenge from the Cardiff loanee did enough to halt Martin’s run.

While the Bit O’Red worked hard to get forward, Conor Kearns was proving impossible to beat.

Shelbourne are now joint top, and take on Galway on Monday, with the Bit O’Red travelling to take on Dundalk.

Sligo Rovers: Ed McGinty; Charlie Wiggett, Ollie Denham, Nando Pijnaker; Simon Power (Will Fitzgerald 90), Reece Hutchinson; Conor Malley; Niall Morahan, Ellis Chapman (Owen Elding 90); Wilson Waweru (Fabrice Hartmann 61), Max Mata.

Shelbourne: Conor Kearns; Sean Gannon, Gavin Molloy, Paddy Barrett, Tyreke Wilson; John O’Sullivan (Kameron Ledwidge HT), Mark Coyle, Jonathan Lunney, Will Jarvis (Shane Farrell 83); Matty Smith (John Martin 60), Liam Burt (Evan Caffrey 60).

Referee: Declan Toland.

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