Sligo Rovers Held In Lithuania


Sligo Rovers were left frustrated by a 0-0 draw with FK Banga in the first round first leg tie in the Gargždai Stadium.

Rovers were the better side against the Lithuanian outfit but failed to convert openings with Danny North -and Seamus Conneely missing good excellent chances in the second to take a lead back to Sligo for next week’s return game.
Banga were restricted to opportunities on the break with Evaldus Grigaitis the most influential player for the home side and he squandered their best moment, controlling and volleying over the crossbar in the 83rd minute.

The game finished scoreless but John Coleman’s side will feel encouraged in their hopes of progress in The Showgrounds.
The Bit o’ Red made a promising start as a snapshot from David Cawley went just wide of the post on three minutes.
Danny North tried to test Sarunas Jurevicius in the Banga goal as his effort aimed at the near post was saved comfortably.
It was a dominating first quarter from Sligo without creating a clear opening and the 2013 Lithuanian Cup runners-up grew in confidence as the half progressed.
Raffaele Cretaro’s mistake on the half hour mark led to Sergei Shevchuk’s placing the ball across the visitors’ goal, forcing Gary Rogers to palm away and Seamus Conneely cleared to safety.
There was another great opening for the Gargdzai side as Shevcuk crossed for Grigaitis to sky a shot over the crossbar from 12 yards out.
North and Djilali then combined to tee up Cawley again shortly afterwards but again Jurrvicius could get low down to make the save.
Raffaele Cretaro forced one more save from the Banga goalkeeper before the break with another speculative effort that was easily gathered.
Aurelijus Staponka missed the target in the final noteworthy moment of the half, gaining a yard on the Rovers defence but mis-kicking a shot wide of the goal.
Rovers went into the break knowing they had little to fear in Banga but some sloppy play in defence had presented the Lithuanian outfit with some openings.
The second period failed to ignite although it was the visitors that controlled play for large parts.
Cretaro’s long range attempt went by the ‘keeper’s right-hand post as John Coleman’s men continued to ask questions of Banga.
Rovers came very close to going in front as Cretaro’s cross to North 10 yards out was fired on the volley towards goal, Jurevicuis kept the ball out and Davydas Arlauskis headed out for a corner.
Paul O’Conor’s ambitious attempt drifted wide as frustration was evident for Sligo in their search for an away goal.
The best openings for Rovers came on 72 minutes with two close-range attempts from a Ross Gaynor’s corner, both falling to Seamus Conneely, and again the goalkeeper claimed the ball with shots both straight at his grasp.
Aaron Greene was introduced for Cretaro with 16 minutes remaining as boss Coleman looked to inspire Rovers in the closing stages.
It was Banga’s Grigaitis that had the final clear opportunity as his control and volley 12 yards out failed to test Rogers.
Both sides will feel they can progrsss ahead of next week’s game in Sligo as Rovers search for qualification through a round in the Europa League for the first time.
FK Banga: Sarunas Jurevicius, Aleksei Yepifanov, Karolis Urbaitis, Zaurbek Karkusov; Davidas Arlauskis, Maksym Khablov, Evaldus
 Grigaitis, Andrius Butkus, Elvinas Zagurskas (Aslanbek Tcallagov 78); Aurelijus Staponka Serhiy Shevchuk.
Sligo Rovers: Gary Rogers, Alan Keane (Danny Ledwith 90), Seamus Conneely, Evan McMillan, Ross Gaynor; David Cawley, Paul O’Conor, John Russell; Raffaele Cretaro (Aaron Greene 74), Kieran Djilali, Danny North.
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