Motherwell jettisoned out of Europe by inspired Sligo

Motherwell jettisoned out of Europe by inspired Sligo

Shane Blaney’s early strike set the tone for the rest of the journeyman

Motherwell were outclassed by an inspired Sligo Rovers as the hapless Scots were rightly left out of Europa Conference League qualifying.

Already a goal clear of last week’s first leg, Shane Blaney’s first free-kick saw the hosts Ireland dominate the encounter.

Max Mata’s late breakaway goal completed a famous result.

In truth, it was never in question against a Scottish Premiership side lacking creativity and us.

Motherwell was mocked by furious full-time traveling support, while Sligo fans jubilantly celebrated the prospect of a meeting with Norwegian side Viking in the third round.

A much improved performance from last week at Fir Park was mandatory for Motherwell if they were to overturn the aggregate score. We couldn’t imagine a worse start.

Bevis Mugabi – whose mistake led to Aidan Keena’s first-leg winner – conceded a free-kick 25 yards from Liam Kelly’s goal. What followed was nothing short of sensational.

With just four minutes on the clock, Blaney tricked the Motherwell keeper with a shot into the top corner to extend Rovers’ lead.

Motherwell appeared to have responded quickly when Ricki Lamie flew in at close range, but cries of relief rather than joy were abruptly stopped by the assistant’s flag.

Graham Alexander’s side failed to really test Luke McNicholas in the Sligo Rovers goal before the interval with a surprising lack of chances.

In turn, it was Kelly who was forced to stay vigilant. Sophisticated footwork from Niall Morahan found Keena, but his strike lacked venom as it flew straight at the visiting keeper.

After the break, Sligo remained energetic, creative and confident. Motherwell was dull, barren and messy.

Bottom left, Will Fitzgerald turned Paul McGinn into a daze for the hosts. Showing inside and out, he thwarted the unmarked David Cawley, but the execution went off target.

Alexander rolled the dice by bringing in Joe Efford and Sean Goss. The bond between the two was the most inspired in the 90 minutes, but even so, Efford’s effort came full circle with rare luck.

Already beaten and defeated, things would get even worse for the Scottish team in stoppage time.

Mata – who should have scored in Lanarkshire – made no mistake when the ball fell on him.

The first key was to control, the second was to send Motherwell out of Europe before their league season even started.

“We took our chance to make history” – reaction

Sligo coach John Russell: “It’s a huge moment. I told the players about it before the game – it was a chance to make history.

“We had to be strong defensively and limit Motherwell. To start the game with that free kick is a wonderful moment. We were disciplined and put in a good performance. We have to keep producing shocks.”

Motherwell manager Graham Alexander: “We didn’t compete at the level we needed to win the game. We gave up a very bad goal and that put us on the back foot.

“It was just the perfect start for them, the worst start for us. Any momentum we had at any time was negated by Sligo. We didn’t have that killer instinct or the drive to beat our opponent in the box. .”


Sligo Roads

  • 16McNicholas
  • 2Banks
  • 19Church
  • 4Blaney
  • 26Buckley
  • 17McDonnellBooked at 16 minsReplaced bybarlowat 79′minutes
  • 8MorahanReplaced bymataat 69′minutesBooked at 25 mins
  • 22CawleyReplaced byPijnakerat 79′minutes
  • sevenFitzgeraldReplaced byLiivakat 90′minutes
  • 14O’Sullivan
  • 9Keena


  • 6Bolger
  • tenLiivak
  • 1 2Byrne
  • 25Hi
  • 27mata
  • 28Pijnaker
  • 30Brush
  • 31Walsh
  • 34barlow
  • 41Clancy
  • 44McCarthy


  • 1Kelly
  • 16McGinnBooked at 62 mins
  • 3Carroll
  • 4lamia
  • 5mugabiReplaced bySolholm Johansenat 71′minutes
  • 6MaguireReplaced byKidat 69′minutes
  • 8grating
  • 23MorrisBooked at 47 mins
  • sevenspitReplaced byShieldsat 45′minutes
  • 26TierneyReplaced byEffordat 69′minutesBooked at 90 minutes
  • 9van Veen


  • 2O’Donnell
  • 11Efford
  • 1 2Fox
  • 14Ojala
  • 15thSolholm Johansen
  • 18Cornelius
  • 27Kid
  • 28Mahon
  • 29Shields
  • 31Connolly
  • 35Campbell

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