Lyt­tle’s risks back­fired, and mo­men­tum crashes down again

The Sligo Champion - - SPORT -

JUST when you think Sligo Rovers are gath­er­ing some sort of win­ning mo­men­tum, it all comes crash­ing down again. A dis­ap­point­ing first de­feat in eight league games leaves Rovers again re­ly­ing on oth­ers to drop points in their bid to stay in the Premier Di­vi­sion. Af­ter wins over Cork and Finn Harps, an all too hum­bling de­feat to an av­er­age Gal­way United side again sorely out­lined the short­com­ings in this un­der-per­form­ing side.

Rovers weren’t al­lowed set­tle and find any sort of rhythm in the open­ing quar­ter. Gal­way’s re­lent­less press­ing of our full backs, Re­gan Donelon in par­tic­u­lar was a per­sis­tent tac­tic through­out and bore fruit with their first and third goals. Rushed in their ef­forts to clear their lines, the Rovers rearguard never gave the ball players in mid­field, lim­ited in num­bers as they were, a chance to get a hold of the ball and tem­per the speed of the game. Gary Boy­lan swung at fresh air in ef­forts to clear a ball from his side only to be res­cued by the quick-think­ing Donelon six min­utes in, with Gal­way’s Padraic Cun­ning­ham ea­ger to pounce and Shaun Pat­ton glued to his front post. Ro­nan Mur­ray tested both Pat­ton and the stur­di­ness of the cross­bar in quick suc­ces­sion be­fore the Bit O’Red, to­tally against the run of play, hit the break.

Kyle Cal­lan-McFad­den could have had a hat-trick in this one such was his pres­ence in the Gal­way area dur­ing set pieces. He took his goal well and while Rovers en­joyed a short spell of dom­i­nance, it didn’t last long enough to count a sec­ond time. Had Jamie McDon­agh’s de­li­cious first time vol­ley dipped a lit­tle ear­lier, we would be talk­ing about the goal of the sea­son and po­ten­tially a dif­fer­ent re­sult. Rel­e­ga­tion bat­tles hang on such mo­ments.

Gal­way dragged them­selves back into the game min­utes be­fore the game. Boy­lan, who didn’t bring his form from the Harps game into this one, was turned far too easy al­low­ing Ga­van Holo­han to square for the loose Marc Lud­den to fin­ish. Gal­way’s sheer de­ter­mi­na­tion and abil­ity to pro­duce chances hand­ing them a right­ful lev­eler against a dis­or­gan­ised back four. Ger Lyt­tle opted to keep faith with the same eleven who started the win over Harps six days pre­vi­ous. A risk which to­tally back­fired. The same eleven strug­gled for large pe­ri­ods at Finn Park and were al­ways likely to do the same in Gal­way. The dif­fer­ence that night was a slice of luck and the pres­ence of Rhys McCabe who was largely anonymous on Fri­day. Our in­sis­tence on hoof­ing hit and hope balls to­wards the un­fit look­ing Vinny Fa­herty didn’t help. I’d hoped that pre-his­toric tac­tic had gone out the door with Dave Robert­son but it still fea­tures far too of­ten in Rovers’ game.

It meant McCabe’s abil­ity to dic­tate the game was lim­ited. Of course the Scot can’t do it all by him­self. Daniel Kearns has more than enough abil­ity to have his own say in a game like that but yet again he was largely in­ef­fec­tive. He did find him­self stranded away from play for the ma­jor­ity of the game but only seemed in­ter­ested in get­ting in­volved on the odd oc­ca­sion. Now 14 months at the Show­grounds, it’s tough to re­call many games the Belfast man has had a real in­flu­ence in.

Hind­sight is ev­ery­thing and noth­ing in sport, but Lyt­tle must be pon­der­ing his team choice. Would the in­clu­sion of Boy­lan and John Rus­sell in the mid­dle have made a dif­fer­ence? Tobi Ade­bayo-Rowl­ing has strug­gled for form this year and is un­likely to have made a huge dif­fer­ence. But would even an hour of Raf Cre­taro’s en­ergy and burst of pace have been a pre­ferred method up top? Vinny Fa­herty worked hard all night but was lim­ited in his ef­fect on pro­ceed­ings. Ei­ther way, Rovers were beaten by a hun­grier Gal­way side, more will­ing to make things hap­pen rather than wait for other to cre­ate op­por­tu­ni­ties. Rovers’ sec­ond half show­ing was akin to the ma­jor­ity of sec­ond half per­for­mances this year. Ev­ery­thing is slower and more con­ser­va­tive. We wait for the other team to show their hand. Be­fore you know it, Gal­way are two up and it’s too lit­tle too late.

Any­thing but a Shamrock Rovers win over St Pat’s in Inchicore last night (Mon­day) sees our fu­ture out of our hands. A draw would pull the Saints level on points with the Bit O’Red but would also hand Liam Buck­ley’s out­fit the ad­van­tage due to their su­pe­rior goal dif­fer­ence.

While a home win ce­ments our place back in the drop zone. Af­ter a de­feat such as Fri­day’s, the next game can’t come quick enough. This week­end sees the last four in the FAI Cup com­pete mean­ing an­other week­end off for the Bit O’Red be­fore Satur­day week’s visit of Bo­hemi­ans. The Gyp­sies will still be in the hunt for the last Euro­pean spots. There’s still some way to go in this skir­mish to sur­vive. Drogheda’s rel­e­ga­tion will be all but con­firmed if they fail to beat Shams on the same day while Harps’ re­cent poor form seems to have sealed their fate. A chance re­mains for an­other twist in the tale in who fin­ishes third from bot­tom, but a win over an in-from Bohs today at least, looks un­likely.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.