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Sligo Win FAI Cup In Dramatic Fashion

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Sligo Rovers won their fifth FAI Cup in dramatic fashion as a late goal from Anthony Elding secured a 3-2 win over a spirited Drogheda United, who thought Ryan Brennan’s late equaliser had done enough to warrant extra time.

Drogheda United started the game counter attacking all of Sligo’s attacks in a 4-1-4-1 formation. Mick Cooke knew his side were the underdogs here and he set up his side perfectly.

Drogheda began well and restricted the play of their opponents, with Drogs striker Gary O’Neill in attendance to cheer on his side following his recent diagnosis with cancer.

Sligo Rovers did however have a half-hearted penalty claim turned down as former Shamrock Rovers man Aaron Greene was sent tumbling when he broke inside the box however his claims were waved away by Refereee Paul Tuite.

Drogheda broke from the resulting corner and had themselves in-front early on. Former UCD man Paul O’Conor managed to get on the end of a Drogheda cross and fire his shot into the top left hand corner of Gary Rogers’ goal. A brilliant counter attacking move.

Rovers grew more annoyed at themselves and the officials as the game grew on resulting in giving away very silly free kicks that could have only improved United’s lead.

Rovers grew more into the game in the late stages of the first half, thirty minutes in and they knew they needed a goal before half time to get themselves back into the tie. Sligo didn’t start off the best but hoped to end the half on top.

Sligo Rovers did however have the ball in the back of the net through striker Anthony Elding, however, the referee adjudged that the ball was over the line before the cross came in for the header and the goal was ruled out.

Sligo Rovers found joy down the right hand side of the Drogheda defence and focused their efforts accordingly but Drogheda managed to defend their lead well.

The Rovers defence were getting more and more frustrated as the game grew old as Drogheda winger Ryan Brennan was finding a lot of joy down the right hand side of the pitch, he was impressive throughout.

Drogheda United reached half time with the lead still in their hands. Sligo’s first half performance was poor throughout, despite the off-side goal there was rarely noteworthy stuff happening. Drogheda fully deserved their lead.

No changes were made at half time for either side.

Rovers started the second half brightly, getting more and more onto the ball, creating more and more chances.

Drogheda United continued with their counter attacking efforts and had the ball in the net once again but it was ruled out as it was adjudged that Brennan was climbing on top of right back Alan Keane.

Before the disallowed goal Drogheda were creating a host of chances and putting Sligo Rovers under a lot of pressure.

Rovers did however have to clear the ball off their own line inside the last twenty minutes as a well worked free kick was sent scrambling around the box before it was eventually cleared.

Drogheda United goal-scorer Paul O’Conor limped off moments with a hamstring injury. Fast forward a few minutes later and the scores were level with ten minutes remaining. Substitute Danny North found enough room inside the Drogheda United box to execute an inch perfect volley that evaded the struggling Drogs defenders and found the back of the net.

North’s introduction would prove to be a masterstroke by Ian Baraclough. Sligo caught Drogheda napping when Joseph Ndo lofted a free kick over the claret and blue wall and onto the foot of North who volleyed home a goal worthy of winning any game.

However it wasn’t to be as Ryan Brennan added an equaliser at the death. But just when the match seemed destined for extra time , Elding popped up once again with a 94th minute winner to break Drogheda hearts and help the Bit O’Red lift their fifth FAI Cup.

Sligo Rovers: Gary Rogers, Alan Keane, Iarfhlaith Davoren, Gavin Peers, Jeff Henderson (Evan McMillan), Anthony Elding, Raffaele Cretaro (Danny North), Joseph Ndo, Aaron Greene (Ross Gaynor), Kieran Djilali and Danny Ventre. Unused subs: Ciaran Kelly ,David Cawley, Seamus Conneely and Lee Lynch.

Drogheda United: Michael Schlingermann, Derek Prendergast, Alan McNally, Paul O’Conor (Graham Rusk), Ryan Brennan, Gavin Brennan, Shane Grimes, David Cassidy, Declan ‘Fabio’ O’Brien, Mick Daly and Alan Byrne. Unused subs: Gabriel Sava, Philip Hand, Cathal Brady, Peter Hynes, Eric Foley and Jason Marks.

Image courtesy of rte.ie

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