Rovers set for tough trip to Sligo
By Daire Walsh
SHAMROCK Rovers will look to take another giant step towards a third successive SSE Airtricity League Premier Division title when they take on Sligo Rovers at The Showgrounds on Saturday (kick-off 7.45pm).
After having games in hand on main rivals Derry City for an extended period, the Hoops finally got a chance to get back up to speed in the past week.
Following a scoreless draw with Damien Duff’s Shelbourne at Tolka Park four days earlier, Rovers held firm to record a 1-0 victory over UCD in Tallaght on Monday.
While neither of these displays saw Stephen Bradley’s men at their best, the upshot is that Rovers are now five points clear of Derry with just six games remaining in this season’s top-flight.
Neil Farrugia came back to haunt his former club last Monday as he shook the net in the 13th-minute of the clash with UCD.
The Hoops created enough chances to win more comfortably, but it’s worth noting that veteran custodian Alan Mannus was forced into action on a couple of occasions.
The former Northern Ireland international celebrated his 40th birthday in May and will be seeking a fifth League of Ireland crown in the coming months.
Rovers’ final home game of the campaign – and their penultimate league encounter overall – will be against Derry on October 30 and they will hope to have a strong cushion in advance of the Candystripes paying a visit to Tallaght.
Sligo are currently fifth in the Premier Division table and while the Hoops got the better of the north-west outfit on May 9 on their home turf, they shared the spoils with them on two occasions before that.
A Graham Burke penalty and an Adam McDonnell own goal helped Bradley’s troops to come from behind to earn a 2-2 draw in Tallaght last March and Andy Lyons was on target in a 1-1 stalemate at The Showgrounds on the following month.
Given that they have drawn three and lost one of their last seven Premier Division games, Shamrock Rovers can’t afford to take their eye off the ball this Saturday.