Galway United suffered a frustrating narrow loss at home to Connacht neighbours Sligo Rovers on Friday evening at Eamonn Deacy Park.
The goal that decided the outcome of the game arrived in the 5th minute when Neil Doyle penalised Ger Hanley for fouling Raf Cretaro to the bemusement of everybody at Eamonn Deacy Park. Replays afterwards showed that Ger Hanley clearly punched the ball before making any connection with the Sligo native.
Sligo Rovers striker Dinny Corcoran stepped up and slotted past Ger Hanley from 12 yards to open the scoring.
United were rocked by the early goal and Corcoran almost doubled the Bit o’ Red’s lead two minutes later when he lobbed the ball over Ger Hanley but Stephen Walsh anticipated the danger and cleared the ball off the line.
On the half hour mark, United centre-back Kevin Garcia sent a long seeking ball over the top that nearly played Jake Keegan through on goal but Sligo goalkeeper Richard Brush was quick off his line to smother the ball.
Sligo Rovers winger Kevin Devaney crafted a decent chance when he dropped his shoulder on the left wing and cut inside on his right foot before striking from long range but his powerful shot was straight at Ger Hanley.
United finished the first half strongly when Alex Byrne found Enda Curran at the edge of the Sligo box, Curran rolled Sligo defender Stephen Folan who got too tight but he fired high and over the crossbar.
Galway native Stephen Folan pulled off a fantastic challenge to dispossess Galway United skipper Paul Sinnott, who looked to be clean through on goal.
Stephen Walsh ventured forward on the brink of half time, he collected possession 30 yards out before driving a stinging effort at goal that Richard Brush needed two attempts to collect.
The second half was owned by Galway United, Sligo Rovers seemed content to play on the counter, mostly having long range strikes that didn’t trouble Hanley.
Five minutes into the second half, United really should have drawn level when Connolly delivered a probing free kick, Shanahan got a flick-on that drew a top save from Sligo Rovers keeper Richard Brush. From the resultant corner kick, Stephen Walsh headed over at the near post totally unmarked.
With just over 20 minutes to go, in a rare attack from the away side, Sligo substitute Sander Puri had a long range effort but it drifted wide of goal.
United were again guilty of not taking their chances in the 77th minute when Gary Shanahan’s cross to the backpost found Padraic Cunningham, who was totally unmarked, but his headed effort was straight at Richard Brush.
In the closing moments of the game, Sligo had two efforts from long range from Nielsen and Cawley that came to nothing.
Despite United’s pressure and chances in the second period, Sligo Rovers held on for a valuable first win of the season at Eamonn Deacy Park.
REFEREE: Neil Doyle (Dublin).
GALWAY UNITED (4-2-3-1): Hanley; Byrne, Garcia, Walsh, Horgan; Sinnott (c), O’Leary; Shanahan, Keegan (Cunningham 69), Connolly; Curran.
UNUSED SUBSTITUTES: Gleeson (GK), Raftery, O’Laoi, McDonagh, Barry.
BOOKED: Curran 60.
SLIGO ROVERS (4-4-1-1): Brush; Boylan, McManus, Folan, Dykes; Beattie (Puri 49), Russell, Cawley, Devaney; Cretaro (Wearen 82); Corcoran (Nielsen 63).
UNUSED SUBSTITUTES: Coulter (GK), Armstrong, Keane.
SCORER: Corcoran 5.
BOOKED: Folan 48, Russell 54, Nielsen 87.