ANTHONY Elding chalked up his fifth goal in four games as Sligo Rovers maintained their 100% start to the season with a 3-1 win over Dundalk at Oriel Park last Tuesday night.
Goals from Raffaele Cretaro and Gavin Peers gave the reigning champions a two goal lead at the break before the former Grimsby Town striker headed home a Cretaro cross in the 53rd minute to put Sligo 3-0 ahead and in the driving seat at the top of the Airtricity League.
Dundalk pulled one back through a Kurtis Byrne goal but it was not enough to stop Stephen Kenny’s unbeaten start as Lilywhites manager from coming to an
The champions arrived with four Setanta Cup and Airtricity League wins under their belts and they started with intent with former Dundalk player Ross Gaynor making an overlapping run to test Peter Cherrie after just 90 seconds.
Dundalk failed to heed the warning and just three minutes had elapsed when the Bit O’Red forged ahead. Again they found joy on the flanks. Raffaele Cretaro picked up possession wide right and cut in past the feeble challenge of Eoghan Osborne to drill the ball through Cherrie’s legs.
The goal knocked the stuffing out of the home side and they struggled to get a foothold in the game. O’Donnell’s influence was badly missed in the centre of the park with Sligo’s David Cawley and Seamus Conneely head and shoulders above their counterparts in the first-half.
As a result, Kenny’s side were limited to scraps. John Dillon, a title winner with Sligo last year, tested Gary Rogers with a low drive in the 14th minute after Kurtis Byrne had showed quick feet on the edge of the penalty area to set up the chance and Richie Towell saw a looping effort clear the bar.
The hosts steadied themselves but they were left with a mountain to climb going into the break as Sligo doubled their lead five minutes before half-time.
Gaynor was the architect, going down under a John Sullivan challenge to win a soft free from referee Paul Tuite. The Ardee native picked himself up to deliver a great free-kick which was turned home by the unmarked Gavin Peers from close range. This was Gaynor’s third assist in two games.
An exciting start to the second-half saw chances for both sides. Gaynor, a constant thorn in Dundalk’s side, again tested Cherrie, this time after a fine solo run.
At the other end, Rogers had to fling himself to his right to make a great stop from a Kurtis Byrne header, much to the frustration of many of the 2054 in attendance.
Any notions that Dundalk could somehow retrieve the situation were seemingly put to bed when Baraclough’s side pulled three goals in front thanks to Elding’s fourth league strike of the campaign.
Cretaro’s delicious cross from the right found the in form striker hovering menacingly between Andy Boyle and John Sullivan and he made no mistake from eight-yards out.
Dundalk kept going and they were rewarded in the 68th minute when Kurtis Byrne left Rogers with no chance with a dipping effort from almost 30-yards.
And they could have set up a grandstand finish when Keith Ward played a great one two with substitute Darren Meenan to race through on goal but his curling effort kissed the outside of the post and went behind.
DUNDALK: Peter Cherrie; John Sullivan, Andy Boyle, Dane Massey, Eoghan Osborne; John Dillon (Darren Meenan 65), Richie Towell, Stephen McDonnell (Chris Shields 70); Patrick Hoban (Vinny Faherty 57), Keith Ward, Kurtis Byrne. Unused subs: Tiarnan Mulvenna, Mark Rossiter, Aaron Shanahan (GK).
SLIGO ROVERS: Gary Rogers; Alan Keane, Gavin Peers (Jeff Henderson 55), Evan McMillan, Ross Gaynor; Raffaele Cretaro (Ryan Connolly 84), David Cawley, Lee Lynch, Seamus Conneely (Kieran Djilali 73), Aaron Greene; Anthony Elding.
REFEREE: Paul Tuite.