Aidan Keena was on target for Sligo (file pic). Evan Logan/INPHO
In form

Shelbourne left frustrated by 3 disallowed goals as Sligo stay unbeaten under new boss

It was the ideal preparation for the Bit O’Red’s upcoming European game against Bala Town.

Sligo Rovers 3

Shelbourne 1

Jessica Farry reports from the Showgrounds

SLIGO ROVERS will go into their European game against Bala Town full of confidence after they defeated Shelbourne 3-1, with the Dubliners left frustrated with decisions going against them.

Shels took the lead in the first half, before Max Mata and Aidan Keena put Rovers 2-1 ahead going into the break.

Three potential goals for Shels weren’t counted in the second half, with Keena netting a penalty in injury time to confirm all three points.

New Rovers manager John Russell is yet to lose a game and was feeling as though it was time for payback ahead of the meeting with Shelbourne.

The Dubliners recorded victories in the two meetings between the sides earlier this season, but Shels manager Damien Duff spoke pre-match about facing a Rovers side full of energy and impetus with the appointment of Russell.

The Rovers manager made just the one change for tonight’s meeting after the draw with Drogheda last week. Lewis Banks was replaced by Nando Pijnaker, while new signing Estonian international Frank Liivak was named among the substitutes.

Duff made two changes from the side that drew 0-0 with Dundalk on their last day out.
Jad Hakiki and Sean Boyd were replaced by JR Wilson and Gavin Molloy, the latter making his first start of the season.

It was the visitors who were looking the most threatening going forward in the early stages, and they found themselves ahead with five minutes on the clock.

The Dubliners charged forward and after some nice build-up play, McManus fired into the net, to silence the home support.

Duff’s men were well in control, but Rovers grew into the game — both sides cautiously taking their time moving the ball forward.

From a Shels attack, the Bit O’Red went down the other end to pull one back. Keena spotted the run of Fitzgerald who carried the ball forward before feeding Mata. The New Zealander had a difficult task in front of him, but he tucked his shot into the corner at an awkward angle, beating Brendan Clarke to make it 1-1 after 23 minutes.

The impetus was with the home side as they were really starting to enjoy themselves, and they soon went ahead.

Mata and Keena played a glorious one-two as they burst forward, before Mata turned provider, teeing up the Mullingar native who placed it over the head of Clarke to give Rovers the lead.

As the second half wore on, Shels were knocking at the door repeatedly, but they were denied on three occasions by the officials.

First, a goal wasn’t counted as it went through Ed McGinty’s hands but apparently never crossed the line, before Hakiki’s effort touched Sean Boyd on the way in, leading to a linesman’s flag, before Jack Moylan’s effort suffered the same fate.

The momentum was with Shels, but they were undone as Rovers were awarded a penalty with seconds left.

Will Fitzgerald charged through on goal, and Brendan Clarke was adjudged to have fouled him, with Keena converting from the spot to make it 3-1.

Sligo Rovers: Ed McGinty; Colm Horgan, Shane Blaney, Nando Pijnaker, Paddy Kirk; Niall Morahan (Greg Bolger 62) (Seamas Keogh 79), Adam McDonnell (David Cawley 76); Karl O’Sullivan (Frank Liivak 79), Will Fitzgerald; Max Mata; Aidan Keena.

Shelbourne: Brendan Clarke; Aaron O’Driscoll (Kameron Ledwidge HT), Luke Byrne, Shane Griffin (Dan Carr 75); John Wilson (Sean Boyd 62), Conor Kane; Brian McManus (Jad Hakiki 63), Gavin Molloy, JJ Lunney (Gavin Hodgins 91); Shane Farrell, Jack Moylan.

Referee: John McLoughlin.

Attendance: 2,593

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