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Sligo Rovers 0-0 Cork City

Updated: Monday, 07 Jul 2014 09:45 | Comments

Garry Buckley nearly scored an injury-time winner for Cork City
Garry Buckley nearly scored an injury-time winner for Cork City

Cork City stayed second on goal difference but moved level on points with Dundalk at the top of the SSE Airtricity Premier Division table after they played out an entertaining 0-0 draw with Sligo Rovers at the Showgrounds.

Both sides produced several good goal-scoring opportunities with Sligo’s best coming from Danny North's vicious free kick early in the second half, which Cork goalkeeper Mark McNulty had to acrobatically tip onto his crossbar. 

Garry Buckley's 92nd-minute header almost stole the full quota of points for City but the midfielder was massively unfortunate to see his header bounce back off Gary Rogers' crossbar.  

The home side were without Jeff Henderson and Joseph Ndo through injury, while Eric Odhiambo served the second of his two match suspension.

New manager John Coleman made two changes to the team which was held scoreless in Lithuania in the Europa League on Thursday night.

Kalen Spillane and Aaron Greene returned for the westerners while long-term injury victim Gavin Peers was deemed fit enough to take his place on the bench. 

Cork, meanwhile, were without injured trio Michael Rafter, Darren Murphy and Gearoid Morrissey.

Manager John Caulfield made two adjustments to the team which beat Limerick last week, with debut man Cillian Morrison and former Sligo full back Iarfhlaith Davoren taking their places in the starting 11 in place of Morrissey and Liam Kearney respectively. 

Rovers were looking to gift Coleman a win on his first outing in the Showgrounds dugout. And they almost got their wish following an even opening period.

Cork had to rely on a fortuitous block from a City defender to redirect Evan McMillan's goal-bound header from an Aaron Greene free on 13 minutes.  

Sligo were on top for the following quarter of an hour of but couldn't take advantage. Raffaele Cretaro shot over on 18 minutes, while Greene saw his effort from the angle squeeze narrowly past McNulty's far post shortly after. 

Cork went into the game occupying second spot in the league and began to show flashes of just why they are title challengers.

Brian Lenihan sprinted past Seamus Conneely on the touchline before finding Morrison whose shot was blocked away by the foot of a Sligo defender. 

Billy Dennehy made the most of Kieran Djilali's failure to keep possession after the Englishman was robbed on the wing. But the former Shamrock Rovers winger couldn't keep his bending shot from the edge of the area low enough to test Rovers goalkeeper Rogers. 

Morrison spurned the Leesiders' best chance of the first half six minutes from the break, when he forced Rogers into a fine save after the former UCD man was afforded plenty of space inside the Sligo area. The Meath man performed similar heroics two minutes later as he palmed away Colin Healy's drive from 20 yards. 

Danny North almost gave the FAI Cup holders the lead on two occasions early in the second half. The first came as Greene's initial shot was deflected into the path of the 26-year-old, but McNulty did well to push away his effort.

McNulty repeated the trick on 49 minutes when he did just enough to divert North's free-kick from distance onto his crossbar. 

Substitute Dave O'Leary's twisting shot from the edge of the area, which ballooned over the Sligo goal just after the hour-mark, was the closest the Rebels came to finding an opener during the early exchanges of the second half. 

Darren Dennehy did well to get in front of McMillan's glancing header from a Djilali corner on 70, while Djilali himself stung the palms of McNulty with a well-hit effort moments later. 

Rovers went close once more with 14 minutes remaining as Greene combined with both North and Cretaro, however the Dubliner couldn't keep down his curling strike from 20 yards. 

Conneely missed the target in the 87th-minute with a thunderous right footed drive, while Mark O'Sullivan's powerful header was well held by Rogers down the other end a minute later. 

Caulfield's side almost stole the points on three separate occasions at the death.

O'Leary produced a fine full-stretch save from Rogers on the stroke of full-time and O'Sullivan's point-blank header was held by Rogers from the resulting corner.

But it was Buckley who came the closest to securing the three points for the Munster side two minutes into injury time.

Substitute Liam Kearney sent across a superb cross which cleared a handful of Rovers defenders but Buckley was unfortunate to see his header come back off the crossbar. 

Sligo Rovers: Gary Rogers; Alan Keane, Evan McMillan, Kalen Spillane, Seamus Conneely; Aaron Greene, John Russell, David Cawley, Kieran Djilali, Raffaele Cretaro, Danny North (for Ruairi Keating 87). 

Cork City: Mark McNulty; Brian Lenihan, John Dunleavy, Dan Murray, Darren Dennehy; Billy Dennehy (for Liam Kearney 73), Garry Buckley, Colin Healy, Iarfhlaith Davoren (for Dave O'Leary 34), Cillian Morrison (for John O'Flynn HT); Mark O'Sullivan.

Referee: Neil Doyle (Dublin). 

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