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Harps lose after first half shocker

Sligo Rovers 3-1 Finn Harps

Three goals in a nine-minute blitz before the half-hour mark condemned Finn Harps to defeat against Sligo Rovers on Friday night at the Showgrounds. It was Harps third league defeat on the trot and the gap between them and UCD has now closed to five points. There are now just five fixtures remaining with Ollie Horgan’s outfit away to Cork City next Friday night before taking on the Students in three weeks time at Finn Park.

Horgan who was sent to the Stand in the second half bemoaned the defensive frailties that were punished in clinical fashion by the hosts on Friday night. “I would have hoped that we would have learned from the mistakes that led to the concession of the two goals against Pat’s but we were guilty of similar errors again against Sligo. In saying that we started well enough and had a couple of half chances. We were playing against a team that were able to make personnel changes and have an eye on their FAI Cup semi-final against Dundalk in a fortnight’s time. But, they still had that extra bit of quality when it came to taking chances and 3-0 down at half-time left us with a challenge that ultimately we couldn’t turn around. We played well enough in the second and if we had pulled a goal back early then it would have been interesting to see how Sligo would have responded. Nathan Boyle had a good chance and maybe that was a decisive moment in terms of us getting back into the game” Horgan said.

Niall Watson, Ronan Murray and Sam Warde grabbed the goals for the Bit O'Red with Harps sub Harry Ascroft heading home a late consolation for visitors following a long throw-in from another replacement Tony McNamee.

Early on Nathan Boyle came close from a header following a Mark Timlin cross. However, it was Sligo who took the lead on 21 minutes when an unmarked Watson headed past Mark Anthony McGinley from a Murray cross.  Three minutes later it was 2-0 as Murray was allowed to cut inside from the left before curling the ball right-footed past McGinley.  The third goal came on 29 minutes when Warde’s corner ended up in the back of the Harps net.

The visitors were positive in the second half with a Timlin effort being blocked by Danny Kane while Boyle fired over the bar. Ascroft volleyed wide while former Sligo player Raffaele Cretaro had a late penalty claim waved away by ref Ben Connolly. Ascroft did head past Ed McGinty for what appeared to be a consolation goal from McNamee’s long-throw in and there was relief on the home bench when Cretaro’s stinging strike came back of the woodwork in the dying minutes.

Sligo Rovers - Ed McGinty; Niall Morahan, Danny Kane, John Mahon, Regan Donelon (James McGrath 83 mins); Sam Warde, Kris Twardek, Daryl Fordyce (Scott Lynch 77 mins), Niall Watson;  Ronan Murray, Ronan Coughlan (Brian Morley 64). Finn Harps - Mark McGinley; Jacob Borg, Keith Cowan, Sam Todd, Dan O’Reilly (Mark Coyle h-t), Mark Russell;  Ruairi Harkin (Tony McNamee 71 mins), Gareth Harkin (Harry Ascroft h-t); Raff Cretaro, Mark Timlin; Nathan Boyle.

Subs not used: Jamie Bell, Colm Deasy, Josh Smith, Shaun Doherty

Ref: Ben Connolly