- Friday August 4th, 2023 @ 22:59
Result: Sligo 0 - Saints 2
Two first-half goals were enough for the Saints to secure the three points away at The Showgrounds as they continued their excellent league campaign.
St Pat's got off to the perfect start as, after just twelve minutes, they took the lead.
Winger Jake Mulraney powered up the pitch before laying the ball off to Mark Doyle. Doyle received the pass and ran at Sligo defender Garry Buckley who then fouled him inside the box with referee Rob Harvey awarding a penalty.
Up stepped Premier Division leading goal scorer Chris Forrester who placed the ball in the bottom right-hand corner, sending Sligo 'keeper Luke McNicholas the wrong way, to get his twelfth strike of the league campaign to give the Saints a 1-0 lead.
After taking the lead, St Pat's looked in control in the game. Captain Joe Redmond started the game to make his first start after his hamstring injury that has kept him out for several months. The St Pat's skipper looked physically strong and back to his best with an excellent display in which he commanded his back four as if he had never left.
The Saints doubled their advantage as Sam Curis struck after 32 minutes of play to mark his 50th appearance for the club. Jake Mulraney was involved again as he whipped in the ball from a corner and, after a mix-up which led to Sligo not clearing the ball, it fell to Curtis in the box and his right-foot half-volley into the bottom corner was enough to make it 2-0.
Jon Daly's men were the side who looked like scoring again as they got unlucky with a few chances. Jake Mulraney performed his signature move of cutting in from the left, beating a defender and smacking a left-footed shot which had the Sligo 'keeper beaten, but it came off the inside of the post. The follow-up then fell to forward Conor Carty who couldn't keep his shot on target.
In the 63rd minute of play, Alex Nolan came on for Mulraney to make his league debut for St Pat's. He went close with a strike from outside of the box, but it went just wide of the post.
Chris Forrester nearly got his second of the night as his curling free-kick hit the crossbar from 25-yards out in the 87th minute after Adam Murphy had been fouled.
Late on, the home side were awarded a penalty after Anto Breslin was deemed to have handled the ball by referee Rob Harvey. David Cawley stepped up to take the shot from twelve yards but missed the target, as the ball went wide of Dean Lyness' post and the full-time whistle was blown shortly afterwards to the delight of the Saints fans who had made the journey west and were in full voice throughout the game.
MURPHY: "It's a brilliant win"
Midfielder Adam Murphy was excellent in the centre of the park throughout and was awarded RTE's SSE Airtricity Player of the Match on the night. The 18-year-old recently won the club's goal of the month award for his strike in Europe against F91 and was delighted with his side's performance when speaking to RTE after the game:
"It was a brilliant win, it's a difficult place to come and we knew during the week that we would have to prepare right. I thought we managed the game well. In the second half we probably didn't have as much possession as we wanted but sometimes when you're 2-0 up from the first-half it's just about managing the game. We're coming away from the game with three points so we couldn't ask for much more.
We're a very young squad, the likes of myself and Sam are teenagers, but we have a great mix of senior pros as well and that's probably what gets us over the line at times and they're great to learn off, especially Chris (Forrester) for me as a midfielder. You're watching him in training and you're trying to pick things up off him whenever you can, and I think we're where we are because we deserve to be there."
DALY: "It's a massive result"
Saints manager Jon Daly was delighted with his players 'performances and made it clear that his team were focusing on every game as it comes and not getting ahead of themselves when talking to RTE:
"It's a massive result. It's a difficult venue and they have been a difficult opponent during my time at the club. I was very pleased, I thought it was a very good performance. I thought it could have been a bit more comfortable, we missed a couple of chances and plenty of opportunities to play a better final ball.
I'm delighted for the players and it's great to get the clean sheet. Joe Redmond helped with that, and Dean Lyness made a great save at 2-0, so it's a massive three points and we look forward now to next week against Bohs.
We're never going to shy away from the fact that we're one point off the top now. We're aware that the league is tight so anyone who puts a good run of results together will have a chance to finish on top of the league. After next week against Bohs we'll focus then on the next game."
Tickets for next week's game against Bohemian FC in Richmond Park are totally sold out