by Robert O'Reilly
In an early contender for game of the season, Drogheda United came from behind twice to defeat Sligo Rovers in a five goal thriller at United Park.
Headers from Dinny Corcoran and Gavin Peers, sandwiched in between a Daryl Kavanagh strike, gave Sligo a well deserved lead at the interval but goals from Cathal Brady and Neil Yadolahi capped a stirring second half display from the hosts.
Drogheda manager Johnny McDonnell made one change from the side that won away to Bray Wanderers last week as Alan Byrne came in for Lloyd Buckley at the heart of the defence.
It was a rocky start from Drogheda as Sligo got on the ball early on and they took the lead from their first shot in anger on seven minutes as Kevin Devaney picked up the ball on the left and his early cross found former Drogheda striker Corcoran who stooped to head past Micheál Schlingermann.
Sligo weren’t in the lead for long though as Drogheda responded strongly and they levelled on 14 minutes when Mick Daly’s deep cross was met by Jason Marks at the back post and he picked out Kavanagh who headed the ball into the bottom corner for his second goal of the season.
The Bit o’Red thought they had retaken the lead soon after when Corcoran and Schlingermann collided with the ball falling into the path of Raffaele Cretaro who fired into an empty net but referee Tomas Connolly called play back for the foul on the Drogheda keeper with Corcoran picking up a booking.
Schlingermann was keeping Drogheda in the game at this stage as he denied Devaney but he was helpless when Peers headed Sligo back in front from the resulting corner.
Drogheda were a different side in the second half and they came close to drawing level when Peers’ mishit clearance fell the way of the impressive Marks who fired a powerful effort across the face of Coulter’s goal.
United were finally rewarded on 63 minutes as Kavanagh picked up the ball deep in the Sligo half and his reverse ball sent Brady through on goal and he powered the ball past the Sligo keeper via the inside of the post.
Momentum was with the hosts at this stage and they took the lead for the first time on 68 minutes when Neil Yadolahi got on the end of Sean Thornton’s deep delivery and sent a looping header into the far corner of the goal.
Sligo pushed hard for an equaliser in the dying stages and they appeared to have earned a share of the spoils when bright interplay between Cretaro and Corcoran saw the latter beat the onrushing Schlingermann only for the recovering Joe Gorman to clear off the line.
The win marks the first time since that the Drogs have recorded victories in their opening two league games of the season since their promotion to the Premier Division in 2002 and they will be looking to make it three on the bounce when they visit Galway United next Friday.
by Robert O'Reilly
Drogheda United will host their first home game of the 2015 SSE Airtricity League season when they welcome Sligo Rovers to United Park on Friday, kick-off 7.45pm.
It was a winning start to the new campaign for United last Saturday as they picked up all three points away to Bray Wanderers courtesy of Daryl Kavanagh’s debut goal but Drogheda manager Johnny McDonnell acknowledges that his side were forced to withstand some intense pressure late on from the hosts.
‘It’s great to start off with a win but the team’s performance pleased me even more,’ McDonnell said Thursday morning. ‘I thought that the players left it all on the pitch and I don’t think we had a single player that performed poorly on the day.
‘They were quite difficult conditions to play in given the wind and that worked against us second half but despite Bray’s pressure, I never thought we looked like conceding,’
United were in action again on Tuesday in the EA Sports Cup but they paid the price for a number of missed chances as First Division side Shelbourne ran out 1-0 winners and the former Shels boss was frustrated to be eliminated from the Cup this early in the season.
‘We weren’t at our best on Tuesday but we certainly created enough chances and had we taken one I think we would of gone on to win. It’s disappointing to be out of the Cup but we made a number of changes from the Bray game and the players are still finding their feet.’
Despite Sligo finishing four places above Drogheda in fifth in the table, there was little to separate the sides when they met in the league last season.
The first encounter ended in a 1-1 draw at the Showgrounds while The Bit o’Red ran out winners at United Park in June before Drogheda registered their final win of the campaign away to Sligo in October but McDonnell believes that Sligo are a stronger side now than they were last year.
‘It’s early doors but I think Sligo may surprise a few people this season. They were unfortunate last week against a very good Cork side and they’re capable of beating anyone on their day. I’d imagine that they will be challenging up towards the top half of the table come the last few games of the season.’
The Boynesiders have no suspension concerns going into tomorrow night’s game but midfielder Mark Hughes looks set to miss out once again due to a tight hamstring.
Cathal Brady (Michael Scott 83)
Sean Brennan (Lee Duffy 77)
John Russell (Sander Puri 86)
Raffaele Creatro (Morten Nielsen 77)
Daryl Kavanagh 14
Cathal Brady 63
Neil Yadolahi 69
Dinny Corcoran 7
Gavin Peers 35