A new look St. Patrick’s Athletic took their time to get into gear at Richmond Park last night, but when they did it was worth the wait.
Having gone behind to a plucky Sligo Rovers team, when Jamie McKenzie struck halfway through the first half, the Saints showed their title credentials after the interval to overwhelm their opponents, scoring three goals in the process.
That blitz came in a seven minute period just after the hour mark with Jamie Harris equalising and the American import, Ryan Guy, staking his claim to be part of the Richmond revolution by netting an impressive brace.
Six of the seven new signings made in the close season were bedded into Johnny McDonnell’s team straight away and Dessie Byrne’s introduction as a substitute meant all seven were given a taste of the action in the end.
Of the septet David Partridge probably impressed most on his debut, as did Gary Dempsey who almost netted in the first-half. Harris’ powerful header to equaliser showed how important his threat in the air will be looking ahead to the rest of the season.
But for all Pat’s fine play in the second period, McDonnell will have been alarmed by the flatness of his team’s performance in the opening stages and Sligo were well worth their lead when McKenzie slotted home after 25 minutes.
It’s an opening night win, however, for one of the would be challengers to Drogheda United this season and things should only get better as the new recruits get to know each other.
The new look central defensive partnership of Harris and Joe O’Cearuill were caught cold by a perfectly weighted through-ball and their opposite number for Sligo had the wherewithal to round Barry Ryan and tap the ball into the empty net to leave the visitors ahead at the break.
But Pat’s began that quest with the purpose they should have shown in the opening exchanges as Sligo were besieged from the minute Anthony Buttimer blew his whistle for a resumption of hostilities.
The more the visitors repelled the threat the more the Saints came back for more and cometh the hour, cometh the man as Harris headed home a Bobby Ryan cross with 60 minutes on the clock.
But it wasn’t Harris who would steal the show as he marked his second coming to the Saints with a goal. Within 7 minutes of the Welshman’s equaliser another foreign import, Guy,had terminally ended Sligo’s hopes in the match with a quick-fire brace.
His first came from a header and the second was the most memorable moment of the game as he smashed a shot high into the roof of the net after Gary O’Neill had cleverly shielded the ball on the penalty spot.