Drogheda United 0
LIGO Rovers 0
The limited entertainment value at Head in the Game Park was replicated around other Premier Division grounds on Friday night as just four of the 10 competing teams managed to score.
However, despite a dramatic late rally by Finn Harps to snatch Tim Clancy’s draw against St Pat, Drogheda United were more than happy to maintain their 10-point advantage over the Donegal men, while going further clear from UCD.
It was the Boynesiders’ first scoreless draw at home since September 3 last year, when incidentally Sligo Rovers were the visitors again.
That was also a fairly dull affair, but – remarkably – Drogheda’s starting line-up had only one survivor from that previous clash, named Luke Heaney, while nine other starters last autumn are now members of the club. are not together.
Kevin Doherty has faced such a challenge this year, but it is one he has relished and we are seeing the fruits of the efforts of the management team in the Drogs’ current five-match unbeaten run.
To say that this latest game was going to be a slow burn would be an under-statement. It was certainly very different from the previous meeting of clubs when David Cooley scored twice for Sligo within the first three minutes of the match, which ended 3–2 in his favor, with the extra play of his own goal, Two missed penalties and send-off of Ivan Weir.
The latter was named the official man of the match this time around, undoubtedly his superb goal-line block helped negate Carl O’Sullivan on minute 14, while the Boynesiders were on course seeing Cawley in the middle of the sub. were pleased.
Drogheda forced some early corners through Ryan Brennan and James Clarke, but the next good chance fell to Sligo as Aidan Keena lay on a 60-yard pass from Lewis Banks, only to be stopped by Andrew Quinn who hit a Vital intervened to block his shot.
Coming up to half-time, Bit O’Reid’s powerful New Zealand international Max Mata scored a brilliant run from deep, but again Quinn was equal to the task, tracking No. 9 at full speed before booting the ball to safety. .
Other than that there was nothing to say in the first half. Not a single shot by Drogheda on or off target – and thankfully no extra time either!
At the start of the second period, Sligo took a gear up and went over the bar with a decent header from Banks, before Heaney made a crucial last-ditch challenge to cut Will Fitzgerald away from his stride as he hit keeper Colin. Went face to face with McCabe after a rare error from Quinn.
Drogheda made his first proper goal in the 66th minute after a wrongly taken henie shot – a Draghe Nugent attempt conducted by Ed McGinty. Substitute Chris Lyons hit a shot wrong straight to the Sligo keeper after Brennan’s win over Adam McDonnell.
Drogheda’s best chance of the game came on 81 minutes when a flick from Lyons’ first-ever Dane Massey throw was collected by Darragh Markey and he pierced fellow deputy Adam Foley, who widened the toe from 10 yards.
Moments later, Markey was fouled from 25 yards and hit the resulting free on the head of Messi, who could only advance his effort directly onto McGinty.
Gary Deegan then hit a free kick into Sligo’s defensive wall, but the veteran midfielder almost inadvertently gifted the visitors a 95th-minute winner. Deegan heeled back from the touchline to keep the ball in play, but instead of provoking a Drogheda attack, it was Sligo who poured forward and the resulting cross from the front of the clubhouse took a deflection towards the back post, where diving. Fitzgerald simply failed to achieve the decisive milestone.
Drogheda joint: Colin McCabe 6; Luke Heaney 8, Andrew Quinn 8, Evan Weir 8, Dan Massey 8, Gary Deegan 6, James Clark 7 (Adam Foley 65 min, 7); Darragh Nugent 7, Ryan Brennan 7, Dayale Rooney 6 (Darragh Markey 71 min, 7); Dean Williams 6 (Chris Lyon 74 min, 7). Members not used: Keith Cowan, Charles Mutaway, Dylan Molloy, Georgie Poynton, Evan Haddock, Aaron Davis.
Sligo Rovers: Ed McGinty 7; Colm Horgan 7, Lewis Banks 7, Shane Blaney 7, Paddy Kirk 7; Niall Morahan 8 (David Cawley 65 min, 6), Adam McDonnell 7; Carl O’Sullivan 6 (Cillian Heaney 70 min, 7), Aidan Keena 6, Will Fitzgerald 7; Max Mata 8. Subs not used: Robbie McCourt, Seamus Keogh, Mark Byrne, Peter Maguire, Callen Barlow, Anna Clancy, Richard Brush.