Scorer...Johnny Kenny. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Finn Harps’ unbeaten start to the season came to a halt in the north-west derby clash against Sligo Rovers at The Showgrounds on Saturday evening.
Sligo Rovers 1, Finn Harps 0
Super sub Johnny Kenny capitalised on a bad mistake by Finn Harps goalkeeper Mark Anthony McGinley early in the second half to bag what turned out to be the winner.
And Sligo, who had drawn their previous two home games to date, were ultimately good value for their win in the end, having clearly had the better of the chances in the second half.
Not unexpectedly, there was little between the sides in a closely fought first half on a hard, dry surface, but it was far from being a north-west derby classic.
Yet again Harps fielded an unchanging starting eleven, while on the bench Patrick McGarvey replaced the ineligible Luke McNicholas (on loan from Sligo) as the substitute goalkeeper.
Sligo, who drew 1-1 with champions Shamrock Rovers last time out, made just one alteration with New Zealand international Ryan De Vries in for teenager Kenny.
But the son of Johnny Kenny senior - who played for both Harps and Sligo - was to be the hero for the Bit o’ Red.
Early on Walter Figueira showed some of his trickery on the left flank, and forced Karl O’Sullivan into giving away a free that yielded the Harps man a yellow card in the process but there was precious little goalmouth action in the opening quarter.
One exception was around the 20 minute mark when Jordan Gibson snaked his way into the Harps area on two occasions as he emerged as a threat on the opposite side.
Harps’ first real shot on goal was from a Mark Russell effort after 26 minutes but it posed no bother for Ed McGinty.
The best chance of the half came on 36 minutes. Following a Finn Harps throw, Sligo’s Garry Buckley thumped the ball more than 40 yards down the pitch for Romeo Parkes to chase and he managed to evade Kosovar Sadiki but his crisp, dropping shot was just touched away from the target by the agile McGinley at the expense of a corner.
Just before the break Sligo had another chance for Parkes, with De Vries in support, but he opted to head towards goal himself only to shoot straight at McGinley.
Harps began the second half on a positive note with Barry McNamee floating in a free into the Sligo box that was met by the rising Sadiki but he could not get sufficient power into his header.
Moments later at the other end, Gibson got around Harps captain Dave Webster to send in a cross for Parkes but his looping heading was over the bar.
However, Sligo took the lead in the 51st minute thanks to a howler from McGinley. Shane McEleney stroked the ball back towards the Harps netminder who appeared to have a routine clearance to make, but he completely misread the situation and having taken one touch lost possession as the in-rushing 17 year-old substitute Kenny seized the opportunity to tap the ball into the unguarded net.
Webster was subsequently booked in the post-goal movement of players.
Belgian striker Tunde Owolabi was then introduced for Harps in place of striker Adam Foley - who had been nursing an injury before the game - and he looked lively initially.
McNamee had a shot deflected for a corner in the 54th minute before Harps then had a real-let off on 62 minutes when Gibson surged towards goal before finding Kenny whose drive across the six yard box was just out of reach of Parkes.
Sligo then really got on top and Harps were under big pressure.
Twice Figueria had shots saved by McGinley while in between Robbie McCourt was also denied by the increasingly busy Harps netminder.
Gibson, who was really buzzing, then twice also went close for Sligo as they searched for a second to kill off the Harps challenge.
Late on Harps substitute Sean Boyd was nearly in at the far post only to be denied by Robbie McCourt.
But Sligo held on to win and maintain their unbeaten run this season which now comprises three wins and two draws.
Sligo now go third in the table while Harps drop to fourth.
Finn Harps: McGinley: Boyle (Doherty, 70), McEleney, Sadiki, Webster; O’Sullivan (Folan, 84), Coyle, B. McNamee, Seymour (Boyd, 84); Russell (Shanley, 70), Foley (Owalabi, 55).
Subs not used: Rainey, T. McNamee, McGinley, McGarvey.
Sligo Rovers: McGinty; McCourt, Mahon, Morahan, Horgan; Gibson, Buckley, Bolger, Buckley; De Vries (Kenny, 46), Parkes (Cawley, 78).
Subs not used: Maguire, Lynch, Donelon, Collins, Byrne, Brush, Banks.
Referee: P. McLaughlin (Monaghan).
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