herald

Friday 17 August 2018

Greene puts Sligo on top

Winger bags brace to give Cook's side advantage

WITH just five games to go, Sligo Rovers are right where they want to be -- top of the table and laying down the gauntlet to champions Shamrock Rovers.

The Hoops and Derry City have games in hand but, with their rivals' schedules filling up, the FAI Cup holders can see the finish line in terms of league glory after a comprehensive 3-0 away win over Drogheda.

Last night's victory for Paul Cook's men was all about strength in depth. With injuries mounting, bodies tiring and squads stretched, it's a numbers game at this stage and Sligo won hands down, with Aaron Greene's first-half double killing the game before John Russell added the polish late on.

With Shamrock Rovers boss Michael O'Neill in attendance, this was also a chance for the visitors to lay down a title marker by going clear of the Hoops ahead of the Dubliners' clash with Bray tomorrow afternoon.



Purpose

Both sides were forced into changes, but with a much deeper squad, Cook's side absorbed the loss of Eoin Doyle and Jason McGuinness better than Drogheda coped with the absences of Lee Lynch and Gavin Brennan.

Sligo started with purpose, going ahead within two minutes of the opening whistle as Derek Foran laid Joseph Ndo's corner off to Greene and he powered a left-footed strike into the top corner from just inside the box.

The travelling faithful didn't have to wait long for a second and it was Greene who doubled his tally.

Matthew Blinkhorn brilliantly held his pass for the winger who arrived like a train down the left and powered a low strike past Stephen Trimble.

The second half was comfortable for the visitors as substitute Raffaele Cretaro fed Russell and he squeezed the ball past the unfortunate 'keeper.

Only last-ditch defending -- Robbie Clarke's goal-line clearance denied Russell a second -- and a strange refereeing decision to rule a Cretaro effort out for handball in the build-up kept the total at three.

Mark O'Brien's injury-time sending-off -- for something the fourth official Derek Tomney saw -- compounded Drogheda's misery.

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