Diarmaid Doherty Sport@donegaldemocrat.com @dgldemocrat

Sean Houston is making a habit of scoring important goals in north west derbies.

Finn Harps . . . . . . . . . . . . 3

Sligo Rovers . . . . . . . . . . 0

The midfielder scored twice on Friday night as Harps recorded their biggest win of the season with a crucial victory over Sligo Rovers.

His double came on the back of a wonderful headed late equaliser against Derry City last month.

It was the first time Harps had scored three goals in a game this season and Houston was pretty pleased with his team’s performance, even if he was quick to deflect the praise for his goals.

“It doesn’t matter what game it is, you’re just glad to be scoring - they all count,” he said.

“We played very well tonight, it was probably one of our best games of the season and it’s great to go into the mid-season break with three points.

“We stopped the rot a bit down at Shamrock Rovers and we turned things around. We’ve turned a corner and we put in another good performance here.

He added: “It was a good game to play in. In the first half, we didn’t have a huge amount of the ball. We were well set up and we defended very well. They had one chance at the end of the game, but apart from that, they didn’t have too many opportunities.”

Sligo Rovers had come to Finn Park as one of the form teams in the Premier Division but they were rocked back on their heels when Houston put Harps ahead on 17 minutes.

He ran from deep onto Gareth Harkin’s delightful through ball and kept his nerve to tuck the ball low past keeper, Michael Schlingermann.

Sligo, for all their possession, found it difficult against a Harps side who looked really up for the challenge. They were well organised across the back line where Keith Cowan was back from injury, and worked hard to close down the opposition when not in possession.

That tactic seemed to frustrate the visitors who, apart from a late header from Kieran Sadlier, rarely tested Richard Brush in the home goal during the first half.

Ryan Curran made it 2-0 just three minutes after the restart - his goal coming after another brilliant pass, this time from the excellent Dave Scully.

It was a key moment in the game and Harps never really looked like giving up their two-goal advantage during the second half. Sligo did their best to find a way back into the contest but Harps stood firm at the back and when Houston struck for the third on 72 minutes, it was game over.

This time Schlingermann came to collect a Tommy McMonagle free kick but fumbled when trying to catch under the challenge of Houston. And as the ball dropped at his feet, the Harps man steered it into the empty net.

Harps boss Ollie Horgan was delighted with the win - and admitted afterwards that even he was surprised by the scoreline at the finish.

“I didn’t see that result coming tonight, but similarly, I didn’t see a 7-0 defeat coming against Dundalk the other week,” he said.

“It’s a difficult league to call, but look, we’ll take it. We’ll enjoy tonight and we’ll move on very quickly.

“We’re looking at Longford Town on the first weekend that we’re back after the break which is a massive game for us.”

Finn Harps: Richard Brush, Ethan Boyle, Ciaran Coll, Keith Cowan, Packie Mailey, Thomas McMonagle, Gareth Harkin (Josh Mailey 82), Ryan Curran, Sean Houston, Dave Scully (Kevin McHugh 75), Adam Hanlon (Michael Funston 87).

Sligo Rovers: Michael Schlingermann, Tobi Adebayo-Rowling, Regan Donelon, Michael Leahy, Gary Boylan, Craig Roddan, Jimmy Keohane, John Russell (Jordan Richards 65), Liam Martin, Raffaele Cretaro (Philip Roberts 86), Kieran Sadlier (Jaanai Gordon 86).

Referee: Robert Harvey.