St Patrick’s Athletic threw the title race wide open with a well-deserved win over Sligo Rovers at Richmond Park on Friday night.
The home side started the game well and were the first to every ball in the midfield, getting hard tackles in and frustrating Sligo, who had little time on the ball and little opportunity to create any chances.
Pats pushed forward from the beginning with Anto Flood putting pressure on the defence and Chris Forrester causing problems for Alan Keane at right back with his skills and trickery.
Liam Buckley’s men got the goal they deserved on 21 minutes after a corner from Killian Brennan found an unmarked Kenny Browne inside the box. The defender powerfully headed onto the inside of the post and the ball hit off Sligo keeper Gary Rogers into the path of former Sporting Fingal midfielder Conan Byrne who tapped in from two yards out.
Sligo Rovers had little reaction after Pats goal – Conor Kenna and Kenny Browne giving the league’s top scorer Anthony Elding little time on the ball and preventing him from getting into the game.
The Bit O’Red’s lack of creativity continued into the second half with Pats continuing to dominate proceedings. Sligo’s frustrations began to get the better of them with Danny Ventre and Kieran Djilali getting yellow cards for rash challenges.
Killian Brennan created the first chance of the second half on 67 minutes when he hit a sweet volley from outside the box. Unfortunately for St Pats he hit the ball at Gary Rogers who did well to hang onto the ball as the home side were doing their best to grab a second to claim all three points.
Fans at Richmond Park thought the Saints bagged a second goal when Greg Bolger hit a low shot past Gary Rogers and destined for the bottom corner only for Jeff Henderson to be on the line to clear the ball and keep Ian Baraclough’s men in the game.
With time against Sligo, their task became even more difficult when substitute Iarfhlaith Davoren was perhaps harshly sent off for a tackle on Killian Brennan in the 87th minute. It was a tough break for Davoren who just returned from injury.
Finally the game was won when Brennan, who was magnificent throughout the game, brilliantly chipped the ball down the middle from the penalty spot after Evan McMillan fouled scorer of the first goal Conan Byrne.
There were no more goals after that and Pats have put themselves firmly in the hunt for the title after this convincing win.
As for Sligo they will need to perform a lot better than this if they want to get past Drogheda United in the Setanta Sports Cup on Monday, after suffering their first defeat in the league this season.
St. Patricks Athletic: Dave Ryan; Ger O'Brien, Conor Kenna, Kenny Browne, Ian Bermingham; Conan Byrne, John Russell, Greg Bolger, Killian Brennan, Chris Forrester; Anto Flood (Christy Fagan 77).
Subs not used: Pat Jennings, Aidan Price, Conor Murphy, Stephen Maher, Jake Kelly, Sean Gannon.
Bookings: K Brennan (54).
Sligo Rovers: Gary Rogers; Alan Keane (Gavin Peers 69), Evan McMillian, Jeff Henderson, Ross Gaynor; Kieran Djilali (Pascal Millen 57), Danny Ventre, David Cawley, Lee Lynch, Ryan Connolly (Iarfhlaith Davoren 75); Anthony Elding.
Subs not used: Adam Murphy, Liam Martin, Marty Owens.
Bookings: Djilali (50), Ventre (57).
Sent Off: Davoren (87).
Referee: Neil Doyle.
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Killian Brennan (St Patrick's Ath).