Dundalk FC manager Stephen Kenny. (Pic: Ciarán Culligan)
SSE Airtricity League Premier Division
Sligo Rovers 0-2 Dundalk FC
Dundalk FC registered their first away victory of the season against Sligo Rovers tonight to move within a point of the league's summit.
Patrick Hoban's fourth goal of the season was the trigger for a comfortable evening at the Showgrounds as a later strike from Michael Duffy ensured Stephen Kenny's unbeaten record with Dundalk at the Showgrounds continues.
The manner of this victory was in stark contrast to their last league outing where only a late Waterford FC own goal saw The Lilywhites claim the three points. But, despite showing only the one change in personnel, with Ronan Murray replacing Karolis Chvedukas, Dundalk looked a different, considerably more threatening outfit here; this, after Sligo had some good opportunities in the early minutes.
Callum Watters, Adam Morgan and Caolan McAleer each drew stops from Gary Rogers - previously a title-winner with Sligo - before the visitors took control. Chris Shields and Ronan Murray were impressive in this period, however, Hoban's opener - on the half-hour mark - came in fortuitous circumstances as he capitalised on a Seamus Sharkey mistake to stab past Micheál Schlingermann from six yards.
Chances continued to present themselves for Dundalk with Jamie McGrath drawing a fine save from the Bit O'Red 'keeper, though Gerard Lyttle's men almost levelled a minute from the break when David Cawley nodded Rhys McCabe's corner off the outside of the post and wide.
Ahead by one at the interval, the ultra-impressive Duffy extended The Lilywhites' lead on 55 minutes, shooting powerfully to the corner of the net after another defensive mistake by Sligo. It was a goal wholly merited considering their good play after the re-start and, in truth, it was a decisive strike in a game which had been well-contested to that juncture.
Dundalk sat back somewhat from there to the finish, inviting Sligo forward, even if the winners looked dangerous on the breakaway. Rogers - who would extend his record of clean sheets to seven at the beginning of the season - showed sharp reflexes to stoop low to his left and turn a Patrick McClean effort around the upright shortly after The Lilywhites added to their lead. While, in the closing quarter, Sligo substitute Ally Roy spurned a glorious chance from 10 yards as the visiting defence parted momentarily.
The game petered towards its inevitable conclusion thereafter with referee Robert Hennessy's full-time whistle signalling Dundalk's fourth victory of the campaign and sending the large travelling cohort home in a buoyant mood. Next-up, Bohemians visit Oriel Park on Friday night.
Sligo Rovers: Micheál Schlingermann; Gary Boylan, Kyle Callan-McFadden, Seamus Sharkey, Patrick McClean; Craig Roddan (Eduardo Pincelli 58), David Cawley; Caolan McAleer, Rhys McCabe (Lewis Morrison 67), Callum Watters (Ally Roy 56); Adam Morgan
Subs not used: Mitchell Beeney (gk), Greg Moorhouse, Adam Wixted, Jack Keaney
Dundalk FC: Gary Rogers; Seán Gannon, Daniel Cleary, Seán Hoare, Dane Massey; Chris Shields, Robbie Benson; Jamie McGrath (Stephen O'Donnell 86), Ronan Murray (John Mountney 76), Michael Duffy; Patrick Hoban (Marco Tagbajumi 82)
Subs not used: Gabriel Sava (gk), Stephen Folan, Krisztián Adorján, Karolis Chvedukas
Referee: Robert Hennessy (Limerick)