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Sligo Rovers and Dundalk battle to Showgrounds stalemate

Dundalk miss their chance to go top.

Rovers' Aidan Keena and Dundalk's Andy Boyle.
Rovers' Aidan Keena and Dundalk's Andy Boyle.
Image: Evan Logan/INPHO

Sligo Rovers 0

Dundalk 0

David Goulden reports from the Showgrounds

DUNDALK MISSED THEIR chance to move top of the Premier Division table after playing out a hard fought stalemate with Sligo Rovers at the Showgrounds.

Aiming to leapfrog Derry into the top spot, Stephen O’Donnell made four changes from the Lilywhites’ win over Finn Harps on Monday with Mark Connolly, Daniel Kelly, Pat Hoban and Greg Sloggett all returning.

Rovers gave a first start to full-back Paddy Kirk, while midfielder Niall Morahan returned to the starting 11 having been introduced as a second half sub in their 0-0 draw with Derry City at the Brandywell.

Both defences had the best of it during a relatively muted opening half in which neither team could find an opener.

Lewis Banks saw his goalward drive bounce off team mate Aidan Keena and wide of Nathan Sheppard’s goal two minutes in. A bumper Showgrounds crowd had to wait until almost the half hour for Will Fitzgerald to sky his set piece from 20 yards.

The travelling support saw their team create their first chance of note 15 minutes from the interval.

The much talked about Steven Bradley saw his shot, which was aimed at the far post, deflect off the leg of a Rovers defender before Sligo goalkeeper Ed McGinty brought the attack to a disappointing end.

Opportunities remained scarce for the remainder of the half. Although there was a moment of concern for Shepperd five minutes from the break when Karl O’Sullivan’s cross looped over the rookie net minder, before dropping short of the Welsh youngster’s far post.

Dundalk survived a scare early in the second half after Keena charged his way through the Louth side’s rearguard, Sheppard and Andy Boyle doing just enough to clear the danger.

Lewis Banks turned up a great chance to put his side in the driving seat but saw his looped header come back off the top of the visitor’s crossbar — this after Adam McDonnell found the full-back in space six yards from goal.

Liam Buckley’s charges had the ball in the Dundalk net from a 64th minute corner but referee Neil Doyle adjudged a foul on a defender in the lead up.

While Keena agonised as he dragged his next attempt across the face of the goal seconds later after Dundalk had conceded possession straight from the resulting free-kick.

McGinty had to scramble to keep the ball away from goal eight minutes from time after substitute Keith Ward trashed an effort goalwards following a corner kick which had initially been cleared. Sam Bone got the last touch, but McGinty moved his body in time to bat the ball away.

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McDonnell wrapped his shot around Sheppard’s far post at the stroke of full-time in what was this tie’s final opportunity.

Both of these sides find themselves on the road next week: Sligo travel to Drogheda while Dundalk make their way to Drumcondra to face Shelbourne.

Sligo Rovers: Ed McGinty; Lewis Banks, Garry Buckley, Nando Pijnaker, Paddy Kirk; Niall Morahan, David Cawley (Seamas Keogh 78), Adam McDonnell; Will Fitzgerald (Mark Byrne 78), Karl O’Sullivan; Aidan Keena (Jordan Hamilton 78).

Dundalk: Nathan Shepperd; Sam Bone, Andy Boyle, Mark Connolly, Lewis Macari; Greg Sloggett, Dan Williams (Keith Ward 78); Robbie Benson; Steven Bradley (Joe Adams 90), Daniel Kelly (John Martin 54); Pat Hoban.

Referee: Neil Doyle

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David Goulden

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