Coleman: We had no spark
Rovers still have it all to do as they draw in Lithuania
THEY were unbeaten in the Baltics last night, but Sligo Rovers boss John Coleman has told his players they need to up their game at home to Lithuanian side FC Banga next week if they are to make it into the next round of the Europa League.
With a poor away record in Europe - Rovers had lost their last two away games in UEFA competition - the 80-strong band of Sligo fans in Lithuania last night were pleased to see the side come away with a 0-0 draw, leaving Sligo well-placed to get through on home soil next Thursday and advance to the second round, most likely against Rosenborg.
"I'm not particularly happy as I know that we can play better. We were too loose in possession and we lost our cutting edge," said Rovers boss John Coleman after the game, only his second match in charge of the Showgrounds side.
"There's no doubt that the players can perform better, the work rate was there but the rest was missing.
"There was no spark there although we created chances so we must improve before next week.
"The main problem was in attack where we failed to take the chances that came our way.
"So we must rectify that before the second leg and for the other games we play.
"But I know we have the quality in the team to improve and there are times when you experience these nights in football.
"Now it's up to us to keep plugging away and if we do that then we can be better and more dynamic in the second leg.
"I would have liked an away goal but we'll take the result. Now we must approach the match at The Showgounds believing we can win and go through.
"We know that there was a bit of quality missing last night and we have to ensure we get it back.
"I have no doubt that the players will work hard so that we can play better next week in Sligo," Coleman added.
Sligo had the better chances in the game, with Danny North and Seamus Conneely squandering opportunities.
And they almost paid for those misses late on when Banga's Evaldus Grigaitis volleyed over the bar on 83 minutes but the sides had to settle for a 0-0 draw.
The tie now rests on the home leg next week - though history is against Sligo as they have not won at home in Europe since 1994.
"I'm disappointed and I think we should have won," added Rovers striker Raff Cretaro.
"I'm not going to be disrespectful and say they're a bad side. They're by no means a bad side but we have the quality here and the players here to win against a side which probably wouldn't be of the same calibre as us.
"So we're leaving here disappointed, especially even if we had got an away goal, it's a massive thing in Europe because they could sneak a set-piece or even a mistake and if they score one, you've to score two. That's always in your mind," added Euro veteran Cretaro.
"If we'd scored they were always going to come out and try to score, the game probably would have opened up a bit more. You'll see a different game next week."