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Sligo and St Pat's share spoils at Showgrounds

Updated: Sunday, 04 May 2014 00:25 | Comments

Sligo's Danny North equalised from the penalty spot to grab a point John Russell opened scoring for St Pat's
Sligo's Danny North equalised from the penalty spot to grab a point John Russell opened scoring for St Pat's

Champions St Patrick's Athletic moved to within a point of SSE Airtricity League leaders Dundalk after a 2-2 draw with Sligo Rovers at The Showgrounds on Saturday night. 

John Russell gave the Bit o'Red the lead with 20 minutes played during an even, if uneventful first half.

Pat's levelled the game on 51 minutes courtesy of a well taken Ian Bermingham goal before the Dublin side then took the lead on 75 minutes from the penalty spot through Conan Byrne. 

The lead did not last long however as Sligo were awarded a penalty of their own with seven minutes remaining which substitute Danny North dispatched past Saints goalkeeper Brendan Clarke. 

The FAI Cup holders were looking to record their third win over the Saints this year following victories in both legs of their Setanta Sports Cup semi-final, while Rovers went into the game without long-term absentees Raffaele Cretaro (calf), Gavin Peers and Joseph Ndo (both knee). 

Manager Ian Baraclough opted for the same team that overcame Limerick last weekend. 

Saints boss Liam Buckley went in search of his second win over Sligo this year, following their President's Cup defeat of the Bit o'Red in March. 

He was without Rene Gilmartin, Mark Quigley, Derek Foran and Ken Oman through injury. Buckley made wholesale changes to the side that overcame Athlone in Leinster Senior Cup on Monday night last with 11 switches in total. 

Rovers almost broke the deadlock as early as the third minute during an unexceptional but fast-paced opening half. 

Defender Jeff Henderson broke through the Pat's midfield to set up Aaron Greene, but the in-form winger was foiled by a superb Brendan Clarke save.  

The home side broke the deadlock on 20 minutes. Alan Keane's pass from the right found Greene in the middle. The quick-thinking winger then sprayed the ball out to Danny Ledwith on the left, who laid on the perfect cross for former Saints man Russell to tap in to the net at the back post for his third goal of the season. 

The Inchicore side struggled to break down a stubborn Rovers rearguard and had Sligo goalkeeper Gary Rogers largely unworried for the majority of the opening half.

Russell saw his speculative effort from 30 yards come off a Saints defender and loop over Clarke's crossbar ten minutes from the break. Byrne failed to beat the Sligo wall six minutes later when presented with a good opportunity from a set piece as Sligo held the lead to the half-time break. 

Rogers had to be alert to push away Byrne's low effort six minutes into the second half as Pat's looked to level the game – with the equaliser arriving moments later. 

Forrester's pass across the face of the Sligo goal was picked up by Bermingham who slipped the ball beyond Rogers and into the far corner from the tightest of angles.

Forrester tested Rogers once more on 56 minutes. The former Pat's net minder did well to get behind the winger's drive at goal from 20 yards as both teams began to find space in dangerous areas. 

Christy Fagan should have given Pat's the lead just past the hour mark. Byrne did well to twist and turn and find space behind Keane before finding Fagan at the back post. The incoming striker failed to get his foot behind the ball and was unable to turn his effort the right side of the post. 

Paul O'Conor was next to pass up a good opportunity to split the teams. The midfielder could not direct his header towards goal while unmarked at the back post after substitute North picked him out with a superb cross from the right.

The champions captured the lead with 15 minutes to play. Seamus Conneely was adjudged to have fouled Bermingham inside the area. Byrne stepped up and sent Rogers the wrong way for his fourth goal of the season. 

Referee Tomás Connolly awarded a second spot-kick of the evening with seven minutes remaining as the pace of the game became frantic. Ger O'Brien upended O'Conor as he attempted to latch on to a Conneely cross from the right.

Danny North blasted the ball into the roof of Clarke's net from 12 yards to make it 2-2. 

Pat's continue to occupy second spot, a point behind leaders Dundalk, while Sligo also stay still in fifth position. 

Sligo Rovers: Gary Rogers; Alan Keane (for Danny North 67), Evan McMillan, Jeff Henderson, Ross Gaynor; Kieran Djilali ((Seamus Conneely 54), Paul O'Conor, John Russell, David Cawley, Danny Ledwith (for Eric Odhiambo 88); Aaron Greene.

Subs not used: Richard Brush, Kalen Spillane, Jake Dykes, Sean Maguire.

St Patrick's Athletic: Brendan Clarke; Ger O'Brien, Sean Hoare, Kenny Browne, Ian Bermingham; Conan Byrne, James Chambers (for Greg Bolger 88), Lee Lynch, Keith Fahey, Chris Forrester; Christy Fagan (Daryl Kavanagh 73).

Subs not used: Pat Jennings, Conor McCormack, Killian Brennan, Sam Verdon, Lorcan Fitzgerald. 

Referee: Tomás Connolly. 

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