Matty Smith (R) scored early for Shels before being taken off minutes later (file pic). Laszlo Geczo/INPHO
All Square

New era under Turkish millionaire begins with a draw for Shelbourne

Matty Smith gave Damien Duff’s side lead before Niall Morahan levelled for Sligo with a terrific dipping volley.

Shelbourne 1

Sligo Rovers 1

Paul Buttner reports from Tolka Park

SHELBOURNE COULDN’T CHRISTEN their big announcement earlier in the day of the arrival of businessman Acun Ilicali as their new majority shareholder with a victory as they had to settle for a point in a game they almost lost at the death.

Turkish businessman Ilicali, who becomes the club’s new chairman, is set to bring major investment to the Drumcondra club across the board from the men’s and women’s team, through to the club’s academy and facilities.

Ilicali, who also wholly owns English Championship club Hull City, says his ambition is to make Shelbourne Ireland’s most successful football club.

Though unbeaten in four, and having lost just once in 13, the result sees Shelbourne drop out of the top half of the table.

Sligo sit just below them having trooped off at the finish wondering how they didn’t win the game in its dying embers when having an effort cleared off the line before hitting the crossbar.

With four changes from Monday’s 3-2 win over Drogheda United, Shelbourne gratefully accepted the gift of a fourth minute goal.

Nando Pijnaker miscontrolled an innocuous long ball from Shane Farrell. Sean Boyd was alert to skip away to the end line to pull the ball back for Matty Smith to finish at the near post.

Redemption was close for defender Pijanker just minutes later when the New Zealand international powered a header just over the crossbar from Johan Brannefalk’s corner.

A loose ball then bounced up invitingly for Will Fitzgerald whose crisply struck volley was tipped round a post by Shelbourne goalkeeper Conor Kearns as Sligo dominated the ball.

That said, Shelbourne should have doubled their lead from another defensive mistake on 29 minutes.

Left-back Danny Lafferty’s back pass ran straight for substitute Jack Moylan with goalkeeper Luke McNicholas salvaging the situation when standing up well to save with his feet.

Having survived that, Sligo deservedly levelled on 34 minutes.

Moylan’s headed clearance following another Brannefalk corner dropped for Niall Morahan who beat Kearns with a terrific dipping volley from some 25 yards.

Though Shelbourne had more about them on the resumption, their endeavour failed to translate to any significant threat to the visitors’ goal.

And it was the 82nd minute before Sligo really threatened, substitute Kailin Barlow showing clever feet to arrow a drive narrowly wide.

Then in a dramatic finish, Sligo had two chances to snatch victory in stoppage time.

First the well-placed Moylan headed off the line from John Mahon before Max Mata saw his header strike the crossbar from a Lafferty cross.

Shelbourne: Kearns; Quinn, Molloy, Griffin, T. Wilson; Farrell (Ledwidge, 72), Coyle (Robinson, 72), Lunney, Caffrey; Smith (Moylan, 14), Boyd (Hakiki, 57).

Sligo Rovers: McNicholas; Brannefalk, Mahon, Pijnaker, Lafferty; Bolger (Barlow, 58); Morahan, Browning (Cawley, 66), Fitzgerald; Liivak (Radosavljevic, 66), Mata.

Referee: Rob Harvey (Dublin).

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