by Robert O'Reilly
Drogheda United suffered their heaviest defeat of the season as they lost 4-0 to Sligo Rovers at United Park.
Midfielder Robert Bayly was controversially sent off midway through the first half before quick-fire goals from Morten Nielsen and Jason Hughes saw Sligo go 2-0 up with second half striker from Nielsen and substitute Anthony Elding sealed an all too comfortable win.
Drogheda United manager Johnny McDonnell made four changes from the 1-0 defeat to Bray Wanderers as Bayly, Alan Byrne and Ger Pender all came into the starting XI with Mark O’Brien making his debut at left back.
The home side started the game strongly and they registered the first shot on target on ten minutes when a swift break from a Sligo corner saw lee Duffy pick out Bayly and the former Cliftonville man cut inside on his left foot before hitting his shot straight at Richard Brush.
Drogheda came close to scoring again ten minutes later when Lee Duffy worked a yard of space on the edge of the box but his strike was gathered by the Sligo goalkeeper at the second attempt.
United were reduced to ten 10 men on 26 minutes when a seemingly innocuous foul by Bayly on John Russell on the halfway line resulted in referee Ray Matthews reaching for his red card much to the midfielder’s surprise.
The home side were further punished a minute later as a cross on the right by Russell was headed in unmarked at the backpost by Nielsen for the opener.
A disastrous five minute spell for Drogheda was completed on the half hour mark as a mix up between Alan Byrne and Sean Thornton saw Jason Hughes given a clear run on goal and the former Limerick man kept his composure to slot the ball past Micheál Schlingermann in goal.
Despite substituting Adam Whelan for the more defensive minded Stephen Maher, Drogheda struggled to get any foothold in the game and they went further behind five minutes into the second half as Nielsen tapped in on the rebound after Schlingermann had stopped his initial effort.
Drogheda did manage to bring a save out of Brush with an hour played as Mick Daly’s cross into the box was met by the head of Stephen Maher but his effort lacked the pace to beat the Sligo goalkeeper.
Sligo completed the rout late on as Mick Daly fouled Keith Ward in the area and substitute Anthony Elding sealed his return to the club with a goal on his second debut for the club.
The result marks Drogheda’s fifth defeat in their last six games as they slip further into the relegation quagmire with a critical fixture away to Galway United on Monday.
Mark O’Brien (Robert McKenna 68)
Adam Whelan (Stephen Maher 29)
Lee Duffy (Mark Hughes73)
John Russell (Anthony Elding 76)
Raffaele Cretaro (Keith Ward 73)
Morten Nielsen (Dinny Corcoran 76)