We learned some things about the SSE Airtricity League this weekend. Let's see how many...
1) Athlone Town have had enough of Mick Cooke
Athlone lost their 10th straight league game away to champions St Pats by a 4-0 scoreline. It was the sixth time in 10 games that they've conceded at least 3 goals. It appears that Athlone's board have had enough with Cooke leaving the club today. The 2 names most rumoured to take the reigns have been Pete Mahon and Keith Long but we'll soon find out. They created some good chances against Pats but were never really in the game and the 4 goal win didn't flatter Pats in the end. It seems like only a week or so ago that some were saying Pats were in a mini-crisis but they've won 5 straight league games are only off the top on goal difference
2) Both Rovers teams look set to challenge
A 3rd straight win to nil for Sligo Rovers sees them move into 5th position in the league. They may still be 7 points behind the leaders but we know at this early stage that gap isn't too big yet. It took 2 late goals to seal it for Sligo but they were in front after 3 minutes and look forward to next Saturday when they host St Pats in what could be huge game for both sides. Shamrock Rovers handed Drogheda United their 4th straight loss and now embark on a run of games against teams in the bottom half. As we said in our Friday preview, Rovers could be top of the table after these 4 games.
3) Cork hang on to top spot.
Cork City lead the league on goal difference but have a game in hand (away to Limerick) over the rest of the challengers. They failed to win at home for the 2nd consecutive game. Much has been made of their home crowds (rightly so) but it doesn't seem to have helped them too much, despite being unbeaten there since June. Both Shamrock Rovers (2.5) and St Pats (2.17) have more points per game at home than Cork (2.0). Cork complained about a late "goal" they had disallowed but it leaves them in the pack of 4 teams covered by a single point. Cork's next two games are away to Dundalk and St Pats.
4) Dundalk look like they're missing Stephen O'Donnell already
We thought they would miss them but since his injury Dundalk haven't scored from open play. They needed an injury time (phantom) penalty to beat pointless Athlone Town and then lost 1-0 to Bray Wanderers on Friday night. Pretty much every report on the game agreed that Bray were the better side and Dundalk struggled to create much going forward. They're clearly still in the title race (only a point behind the leaders) but they'll need better performances in their 2 upcoming home games to keep pace with the rest.
5) He won't admit it but the pressure is rising against Roddy Collins in Derry
Another draw at home for Derry City sees them in the bottom half of the table. Roddy's midweek comments about Rory Patterson's work ethic were backed up on Friday as Patterson was forced to play in the Ulster Senior League with Derry's reserves. Collins may have been curisng that decision midway through the first half when Derry missed a penalty. After going behind to Robbie Benson's wondergoal, Derry fought back to earn a point but they've only scored 7 goals all season and 3 of them were against Athlone.
The league is back in action on Friday.