Dublin: 18°C Monday 26 July 2021

Pat's beat Sligo as fans attend Richmond for first time in 470 days

An early Mattie Smith goal and a 72-minute Ronan Coughlan penalty earned the Saints a deserved victory.

Pats’ Mattie Smith celebrates scoring the first goal of the game with Robbie Benson.
Pats’ Mattie Smith celebrates scoring the first goal of the game with Robbie Benson.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

St Patrick’s Athletic 2

Sligo Rovers 0

ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC went level on points with Sligo in the table after beating them 2-0 in the Premier Division tonight, as former Saints boss Liam Buckley made a losing return to Inchicore.

An early Mattie Smith goal and a 72-minute Ronan Coughlan penalty earned the hosts a deserved victory.

Pat’s dominated the first half, while Sligo got the better of the early part of the second period before the spot-kick proved enough for the Dublin side to pick up all three points.

Elsewhere, Shamrock Rovers’ defeat of Waterford saw them go three points clear of both these sides at the top of the table.

200 supporters were spread throughout the ground as fans returned to Richmond Park after a pandemic-enforced 470-day absence.

Both these teams found themselves in promising positions in the table ahead of this fixture.

Sligo were second, behind leaders Shamrock Rovers on goal difference only, while Pat’s trailed them by just three points in third.

The Saints were unchanged from last week’s 3-1 win away to Longford.

Sligo, meanwhile, made two alterations from the recent defeat against Drogheda, with Romeo Parkes and Colm Horgan coming in for Shane Blaney and Ryan De Vries.

After a high-tempo opening, Smith gave the hosts the lead on seven minutes. Robbie Benson’s clipped through ball was only half-cleared and it broke favourably for the Pat’s attacker in the area and he finished clinically when through on goal.

pats-fans-in-the-stands Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

The game played out in a scrappy fashion thereafter, with both sides struggling to create chances.

Just after the 20-minute mark, the hosts went close to doubling their advantage. The ball broke to Smith on the edge of the area, but Lewis Banks was in the right place to block the former Dundee United man’s goal-bound effort.

As the half wore on, Pat’s became increasingly dominant, with Sligo lacking threat and Romeo Parkes cutting an isolated figure up front.

On the half-hour mark, Stephen O’Donnell’s side went close again. Benson played through Billy King, who evaded the challenge of Robbie McCourt before his powerful strike required a strong hand from Ed McGinty to keep it out.

They had another great chance shortly thereafter, as Parkes was adjudged to have fouled Paddy Barrett on the edge of the area after a corner was only half-cleared.

From the ensuing set-piece, Coughlan fired an arrow-like free-kick that was deflected marginally over.

The visitors were dealt another blow just before half-time, as McCourt fell awkwardly when he attempted to control the ball. The former West Brom youngster suffered what appeared to be an arm injury, and was replaced by Regan Donelon in a straight swap at left-back.

On the brink of half-time, Smith won the ball on the edge of the Sligo area, but his effort sailed over.

At the break, the superior Pat’s will have been disappointed that the winning margin was not wider, while Sligo were hoping for a better second-half display after a toothless opening 45.

robbie-mccourt-receives-treatment Sligo Rovers’ Robbie McCourt receives treatment. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

The away team looked brighter at the start of the second half, as Mark Byrne’s low shot was deflected just wide, after a lay-off from Parkes on the edge of the area.

10 minutes after the break, there were claims for a penalty, as Parkes went down in the area with Barrett the closest player to him, but the referee waved play on.

Moments later, a dangerous inswinging delivery from Jordan Gibson just missed the head of John Mahon, after the initial corner was cleared.

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With Sligo beginning to get the upper hand, O’Donnell reacted with Darragh Burns coming on in place of King on the hour mark. 

The Saints then made another change 10 minutes later. With Pat’s having lost their grip in midfield, a defensive switch saw Jamie Lennon replace Chris Forrester, whose influence had been waning.

Then, against the run of play, Pat’s scored a second. Coughlan played through Smith and Greg Bolger committed a rash challenge to concede a penalty.

The 24-year-old striker then stepped up to take the penalty, sending McGinty the wrong way, to net against his former club with 18 minutes remaining.

Sligo reacted by making several substitutions in the dying minutes and went three at the back, as they desperately looked for a way back into the contest, but Pat’s comfortably saw the game out for a big win, as they leapfrogged their rivals into second.

St Patrick’s Athletic: 1. Vítězslav Jaroš 2. John Mountney 3. Ian Bermingham (captain)  5. Lee Desmond 29. Paddy Barrett 16. Alfie Lewis  8. Chris Forrester (Lennon 70) 7. Robbie Benson 15. Billy King (Burns 60) 12. Mattie Smith (McClelland 87) 10. Ronan Coughlan. 

Subs: 21. Barry Murphy 25. Josh Keely 4. Sam Bone 6. Jamie Lennon 11. Jason McClelland 17. Darragh Burns 18. Ben McCormack 27. Danny Norris 38. Tommy Lonergan

Sligo Rovers: 1. Ed McGinty 2. Lewis Banks (Kane 80) 3. Colm Horgan 21. John Mahon 8. Niall Morahan (Kenny 80) 5. Robbie McCourt (Donelon 42) 12. Mark Byrne (Blaney 80) 6. Greg Bolger (captain) 10. Walter Figueria (Cawley 65) 7. Jordan Gibson 27. Romeo Parkes.

Subs: 30. Richard Brush 4. Danny Kane 9. Ryan De Vries 14. Shane Blaney 19. Regan Donelon 22. David Cawley 24. Johnny Kenny 25. Cillian Heeney 33. Peter Maguire

Referee: Paul McLaughlin

About the author:

Paul Fennessy  / reports from Richmond Park

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