Wednesday 8 February 2023 Dublin: 7°C
Ryan Byrne/INPHO Sligo Rovers' Max Mata [file photo].
# comeback win
Sligo rally with Mata brace in two minutes to edge out Bohs and close in on fourth place
The Bit O’Red now move three clear of Bohs, and one behind St Pats on the table.

Sligo Rovers 2

Bohemians 1

Jessica Farry reports from The Showgrounds

SLIGO ROVERS SCORED two goals in two minutes to come from behind, beating Bohemian at The Showgrounds to move one point behind St Patrick’s Athletic in fourth place.

John O’Sullivan scored his first goal for Bohs in the second-half, but Rovers responded well with Max Mata netting twice to seal all three points. For Keith Long’s side, it was probably a good time to be playing Sligo Rovers as their attention has been largely on European football over the last number of weeks.

Manager John Russell has spoken at length of the importance of picking up form at this stage of the season as his side continue their chase for a top four finish.
But Bohs are in a similar position and Long has had to contend with a fairly big turnover of players during the summer, adding nine new players.

Rovers were hurting following last Thursday’s heavy defeat to Viking in Norway, while the Dubliners travelled to Sligo on the back of a good run of form, which has seen them win three of their last five.

A healthy win over Finn Harps in the cup last week has continued Bohs’ good form, and Rovers would have been wary considering they have been beaten twice by their Dublin counterparts this season. The two sides were level on points heading into this game, with St Patrick’s Athletic four ahead in fourth, and Shelbourne just one behind in seventh.

It probably says a lot about the first half when one of the highlights was a yellow card for Bohs’ Liam Burt who appeared to leave the field of play for a bathroom break during the game without the referee’s permission.

Neither goalkeeper had a lot to do in the early stages, with Tadhg Ryan comfortably saving Aidan Keena’s tame effort, before the visitors started to really probe. A succession of corners came to nothing, with Declan McDaid, Ciaran Kelly, Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe and John O’Sullivan all testing the Rovers rearguard.

Rovers started the second half brighter, but it was Bohs who took the lead, and deservedly so. Fantastic work from Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe and James Clarke played in O’Sullivan who fired past McNicholas to make it 1-0.

The Dubliners deserved their lead, but the home side responded positively to going behind.

Substitute Max Mata was causing problems, and he made it 1-1 moments later as an excellent ball over the top from Keena fell into the path of the New Zealander, who fired past Tadhg Ryan at a tricky angle to revive Rovers’ chances on the day. Just two minutes later, Rovers went ahead with the same man scoring again.

Will Fitzgerald did brilliantly on the left to get the cross into the box, with Mata gaining possession after the Bohs clearance. The substitute controlled it with his chest before shooting with precision past Ryan to make it 2-1.

Bohs tried to find a way back into the game, with Long bringing on new signing Jonathan Afolabi for the final few minutes. But Bohs found Rovers in determined form, and unwilling to give up this vital three points.

The Bit O’Red now move three clear of Bohs, and one behind St Pats.

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Sligo Rovers: Luke McNicholas; Karl O’Sullivan, Shane Blaney, Nando Pijnaker, Paddy Kirk; Niall Morahan, David Cawley (Max Mata HT), Greg Bolger (Robbie Burton HT); Frank Liivak, Will Fitzgerald; Aidan Keena.

Bohemians: Tadhg Ryan; Jordan Doherty, Josh Kerr, Ciaran Kelly, Ryan Burke (Tyreke Wilson 92); James Clarke (Johnny Afolabi 80), John O’Sullivan, Ali Coote (Conor Levingston 74); Liam Burt (Kris Twardek 74), Declan McDaid; Junior (Ethon Varian 74).

Referee: Ray Matthews.

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