Rovers took over the top of the League of Ireland table after recording their fourth win this season over Sligo Rovers. However it took a gutsy second-half performance to snatch the points after the home side went in at the break with a deserved one goal advantage.
There was a hectic start to the game with Rovers winning three free-kicks in the opening ten minutes but all three balls into the Sligo box were dealt with. The home side gradually took over possession and on 16 minutes a mistake by Price saw Cretaro run on goal but he shot weakly straight at Mannus. The Sligo number 9 then headed over the bar from a decent cross.
Rovers were showing little up front and were finding it difficult to provide any opening for the Hoops two strikers. Peers shot tamely wide after 29 minutes and Cretaro saw his shot saved by Mannus following a good run.
Cretaro got in behind the Hoops defence again on 32 minutes when he latched on to a ball over Treacy’s head and this time he picked his spot and shot past Mannus. Rovers hit back and Cahill’s fine cross was met by Twigg just two minutes later but his header was straight at Brush.
Michael O’Neill introduced Robinson and Barrett at half-time and the ex-Arsenal man made an immediate impact when turning to shoot in the box he slipped and was kicked while on the ground and Referee McKeon pointed to the spot. Twigg duly blasted the ball into the back of the net to put Rovers on level terms.
The Hoops were playing with much more tempo and with Rice, Robinson and Barrett moving the ball around well. A decent move in the 53rd minute saw Robinson hook the ball into the danger area but Brush got to the ball first.
Five minutes later a Bradley cross saw Twigg stretch to head goal wards and Brush had to tip the ball over the bar to safety. The Hoops kept pressing and when Robinson forced a corner in the 70th minute Stephen Bradley whipped the ball into the area and Gavin Peers turned the ball into his own net.
The game was being played at a frantic pace and the work rate of Sives and Rice in particular was impressive. Sligo were finding it hard to get back into the game and Robinson went close with a header from Chisholm’s corner in the 84th minute.
Chisholm then shot from Twigg’s lay off but Brush saved well.
As the game entered the 4 minutes of added on time the home side stepped up a gear and Mannus did well to hold Cretaro’s fine shot from just outside the box. Pat Flynn then made a good headed clearance from a dangerous ball into the area before right-full Boco ran into space and fired a great shot that needed Mannus to dive low to his left to push around the post. The former Linfield goalkeeper then claimed the ball under his own post from a header from the resultant corner.
The final whistle was greeted with fine celebrations as the three points took the Hoops to the top of the table after an extremely hard fought game.