Bohemians were given a masterclass in counter-attacking football as champions Sligo Rovers ran out comfortable 3-0 winners at Dalymount Park.

First-half goals from ex-Bohs men Raffaelle Cretaro and Aaron Greene and a second-half header from Anthony Elding sent Aaron Callaghan’s men crashing to their first home defeat of the new season, writes KEVIN FAGAN.


Callaghan welcomed back Dave Mulcahy into the Bohs midfield, with Kevin Devaney leading the line in place of the injured Chris Lyons in a 4-5-1 formation.

In a departure from their usual tactics, Sligo played an orthodox 4-4-2, with Cretaro partnering top scorer Elding up front. But for all their quality, the Bit O’Red were gifted the first goal with barely 90 seconds on the clock.

A deep cross by Ross Gaynor was uncharacteristically misjudged by Owen Heary. Cretaro chested the ball over Heary, but it looked like Roberto Lopes was about to clean up. However, both he and Heary seemed to say “after you”, allowing the Tubbercurry Tornado to poke the league leaders in front. A very sloppy goal from a Bohs point of view.

Credit to Callaghan’s side, the early goal didn’t faze them. They played the better football in the opening periods, with the Dalymount pitch noticeably improved from the draw with Shamrock Rovers. While the surface doesn’t quite lend itself to the flowing passing that Callaghan has instilled, a good April’s growth should see the pitch come back to its best.

An equalizer would have been no more than the Gypsies deserved, and Devaney had a golden chance to do just that on the half hour mark. After sterling work from Derek Pender down the right, Stephen Traynor clipped a lovely ball through. Devaney’s shot was at the angle of the six yard box, but he fired wide at the near post instead of shooting across goal.

Just when Bohs were asserting their dominance, another old boy popped up with a sucker punch. Aaron Greene received the ball on the edge of the box from Alan Keane with his back to goal. Their seemed to be little danger with Lopes tight to the winger, but with a quick turn flash of his left boot, Bohs were suddenly two down. His 20 yard effort went in off Dean Delany’s near post. The Bohs keeper had no chance.

Despite the deficit, Bohs continued to play the kind of football that will surely serve them well throughout the season. McEvoy and Traynor were again impressive, with Luke Byrne continuing to show why he’s so well thought of at Dalymount. Half time came at a bad time for Callaghan’s charges who were well on top when the whistle went.

Captain Heary, who had suffered a torrid first half, was replaced by Stephen Paisley for the second period. With a game against Shelbourne on Monday, Bohs will be hoping that the 37 year old’s knock isn’t too serious.

Sligo soaked up all Bohs second half pressure with the experience of Champions. Evan McMillan was particularly solid. Devaney struggled against the former Bohs and UCD defender. Dave Scully arrived to bolster the Bohs attack, but they could do little to break down the Sligo banks of four. The visitors sealed the victory with one final devastating counter in the 70th minute. Lee Lynch snet Cretaro through down the right, and his delightful clipped cross found Elding un-marked at the back post. The league’s top scorer made no mistake, heading his 8th goal in 7 games for the Bit O’Red.

Bohs don’t have long to reflect on this defeat, with a Dublin Derby in Tolka Park looming on Easter Monday. The perfect tonic for a team looking to bounce back.

Bohemians: Dean Delany, Derek Pender, Owen Heary (Stephen Paisley, 46), Roberto Lopes (Darragh Hanaphy, 83), Luke Byrne, Keith Buckley, Dave Mulcahy, Stephen Traynor, Ryan McEvoy, Karl Moore (Dave Scully, 59), Kevin Devaney. Subs not used: Greg Murray, Michael Barker, Shane Murray, Ciaran Nangle.

Sligo Rovers: Gary Rogers, Alan Keane, Jeff Henderson, Evan McMillan, Ross Gaynor, Ryan Connolly (Kieran Djallili, 60), David Cawley, Lee Lynch, Aaron Greene (Pascal Millien, 79), Raffaele Cretaro (Liam Martin, 87), Anthony Elding. Subs not used: Ciaran Kelly, Iarfhlaith Davoren, Hugh McFadden, Marty Owens

Bohs Man of the Match: Luke Byrne

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