Just two games into the 2013 Airtricty Premier Division campaign, champions Sligo Rovers have signalled their intent to defend their title after they easily accounted for Bray Wanderers last Saturday evening in The Showgrounds to go two points clear at the top of the table.
Rovers, who travelled to Oriel Park last night (Tuesday) to take on Dundalk in their third league outing of the campaign have recorded four wins at the start of the season in all competitions, equalling their best ever start to a season and provided they came back from Louth with a win, it would have equalled the record of three wins in their opening three League fixtures - a feat last accomplished in 1977/78 when Sligo last defended the title.
An Anthony Elding double along with a late strike from substitute Kieran Djilali handed the league champions the three points to send Rovers two points clear at the summit as the league champions enjoyed the majority of the possession in the opening exchanges but didn’t make their dominance finally tell until the closing minutes.
Ross Gaynor almost drew first blood on nine minutes when he took one touch to turn David Webster inside the Bray area, but his flashed his shot narrowly wide of goal. Winger Raffaele Cretaro went close on 23 minutes with a low drive while Alan Keane’s 20 yard shot sailed wide a minute later.
Sligo’s pressure eventually saw a breakthrough six minutes before the break when new recruit Anthony Elding headed home his second league goal of the season from a Lee Lynch cross. Bray almost levelled the score just before halftime when Gary Dempsey’s swerving free-kick struck the top of the crossbar with Rogers well beaten.
Sligo almost doubled their lead two minutes after the break when Ryan Connolly’s strike took a deflection off a Bray defender only to loop over the crossbar while Elding’s effort from Aaron Greens’s cross wasn’t strong enough to test Quigley.
Rovers netminder Rogers was called into action again on 71 minutes when Kieran Marty Waters beat two Sligo defenders only to see Rogers tip his shot around his near post.
Rogers then pulled off a magnificent save 12 minutes from full time when he got down low to his left to parry away a Gary Dempsey volley and repeated the trick seconds later as he kept out a Daire Doyle effort.
Rovers put the tie beyond doubt three minutes from time when Elding claimed his second as he powered home a Gaynor cross from the left and Gaynor was again the provider five minutes into injury time when another pin point cross found Djilali who scored from close range.
Gary Rogers; Alan Keane, Gavin Peers, Evan McMillan, Ross Gaynor; Raffaele Cretaro, David Cawley, Lee Lynch, Seamus Conneely, Ryan Connolly; Anthony Elding. Subs: Kieran Djilali (Cretaro 60), Aaron Greene (Connolly 67), Jeff Henderson (Peers 89).
Darren Quigley; Eoin Hyland, Danny O’Connor, David Webster, Kevin Knight; Daire Doyle, Kevin O’ Connor, Gary Dempsey, Dean Zambra, Kieran Marty Waters; Jason Byrne Subs: Ismahil Akinade (Byrne 72), John Mulroy (K O’ Connor 72), Shane O’ Neill (Doyle 80).