Dundalk scored twice in the space of two minutes to earn a 2-2 draw with Sligo Rovers at The Showgrounds.

Goals in each half from Gary McCabe and Mauro Almeida had Rovers seemingly cruising to three points. But Ross Gaynor and substitute Ciaran McGuigan hit the net in quick succession to shock the home side.

And the visitors nearly won it when Richard Brush’s attempted clearance hit off Johnny Breen and came back off the Rovers post in the closing stages.

Dundalk went with an unchanged side, while Rovers made two changes to their team, with Gavin Peers back from suspension and Gary McCabe earning a recall after his goalscoring substitute appearance in Drogheda last Friday.

And the winger justified his selection with a stunning strike, curling the ball over keeper Peter Cherrie and into the top-corner on 27 minutes.

Rovers had gone close prior to that with a snappy three-man counter-attack after a Dundalk corner. Matthew Blinkhorn fed Padraig Amond, who raced upfield before squaring back for Blinkhorn, whose shot rose just too high.

Dundalk’s best chance of an entertaining first half fell to former Rovers defender Liam Burns, who could only scoop the ball over the bar on 25 minutes after Gaynor’s corner fell to him inside the area.

Richard Brush also had to dive at the feet of Stephen Maher to prevent an early shooting chance, while, at the other end, Cherrie was fortunate not to be punished when his miscued clearance presented Amond with a chance.

Breen replaced Neale Fenn for Dundalk at the break, and another former Rovers player, Fahrudin Kuduzovic, had a good chance to test Brush from an early second half free-kick, but he missed the target.

Rovers made some changes of their own after the hour-mark, with Mark Doninger and Dean Marshall coming in, and it had the desired effect as Rovers claimed a second on 69 minutes. Defender Almeida rose highest at the back post to head McCabe’s corner into the net.

They almost got a third a minute later, when Conor O’Grady flashed a great effort just wide.

But Dundalk responded with a quickfire double. Firstly, Gaynor skillfully broke into the box and finished low past Brush with 14 minutes left. And then McGuigan headed home Kuduzovic’s corner to rescue a point for the visitors.

Sligo Rovers: 1 Richard Brush; 2 Danny Ventre, 4 Gavin Peers, 5 Mauro Almeida, 3 Alan Keane; 7 Gary McCabe, 6 Conor O’Grady (captain), 8 Richie Ryan, 11 Eoin Doyle (15 Dean Marshall 67); 9 Matthew Blinkhorn, 10 Padraig Amond (12 Mark Doninger 62).

Subs not used: 13 John Dillon, 14 Derek Foran, 17 Ciaran Kelly (GK).

Booked: O’Grady (10), Doyle (26), Ventre (49).

Dundalk: 1 Peter Cherrie; 2 Shaun Kelly, 5 Garry Breen (15 Ciaran McGuigan 74), 6 Liam Burns (captain), 3 Wayne Hatswell; 7 Stephen Maher, 4 Tom Miller, 14 JJ Melligan, 11 Ross Gaynor; 9 Fahrudin Kuduzovic, 10 Neale Fenn (19 Johnny Breen HT).

Subs not used: 12 Michael Synnott, 13 Nathan Murphy, 22 Matt Gregg (GK).

Booked: Gaynor (57).

Referee: Neil Doyle (Dublin).