Sligo Rovers 1-1 Dundalk
Dundalk failed to capitalise on Cork City's draw with Bray Wanderers as they could only claim a 1-1 draw with Sligo Rovers at the Showgrounds.
The home side held the lead at half time courtesy of a well-struck Danny North penalty on the half hour mark after Eamon Zayed was upended by Andrew Boyle inside the Lillywhites' area.
Dundalk levelled the game late on as former Sligo striker David McMillan latched on to a Dane Massey cross to score his fifth league goal of the campaign.
Sligo had right back Alan Keane dismissed deep into injury time at the end of the game after he collided with Pat Hoban.
Dundalk were going in search of their eighteenth league win of the season and almost grabbed an early lead courtesy of a Gary Rogers mistake.
Darren Meenan cut out the Sligo goalkeeper's poor throw before finding Kurtis Byrne at the edge of the Rovers area. The striker's vicious drive just missing the target with two minutes played.
Byrne went close again moments later with another strong shot from a similar distance, but the 24-year-old couldn't keep his effort down.
Sligo produced their first opportunity of note with eleven minutes played during a frantic opening period. Sean Maguire did well to sneak inside Dundalk left back Dane Massey before sending a low searching ball to the back post to North. But the former Pat's man failed to get enough of his foot around the ball while unmarked at the back post.
Following a lull in clear goal scoring chances and an even first 30 minutes, Sligo took the lead.
Zayed was clumsily taken down by an awkward challenge from Dundalk centre half Boyle as the Libyan international attempted to spin past the former Shelbourne centre half.
Referee Paul McLaughlin pointed to the spot before right-footed, Danny North sent Dundalk net minder Peter Cherrie the wrong way for his sixth league goal of the season.
The Bit O'Red should have doubled their lead seven minutes before the break. Following good work down the left from North and David Cawley, the latter did well to pick out the incoming Zayed who could only blast over Cherrie's crossbar from close range.
Sligo were forced to withstand some heavy pressure during the early stages of the second half as the Lillywhites pushed hard for an equaliser. But the away side struggled to break down a stubborn Sligo rearguard and introduced former Rovers striker David McMillan with just over an hour played, in an effort to force the game back in their favour.
David's sibling Evan saw his attempted lob from distance sail harmlessly wide of Cherrie's goal on 73 as Sligo threatened on occasion. The game becoming scrappy as both teams struggled to put any real passing game together.
Massey did well to get a toe to Maguire's attempted volley eight minutes from time as the West Ham loanee looked to get his shot away from a dangerous position.
Dundalk were rewarded for their persistence and eventually found the net with just four minutes to play, Massey, a goal scorer the last time both sides met at the Showgrounds, did well to get the ball out from under his feet before landing the ball on the head of the unmarked David McMillan who gladly nodded the ball beyond Rogers at the front post.
Sligo were reduced to ten men in the fifth and final minute of stoppage time at the end of the game. The Sligo captain sent off for a second yellow card following a collision with Hoban.
Stephen Kenny's side continue to top the SSE Airtricity Premier Division, holding a four point lead over second placed Cork City. Meanwhile, Sligo closed the gap on fourth placed Shamrock Rovers to eight.
Sligo Rovers: Gary Rogers; Alan Keane, Gavin Peers, Kalen Spillane, Seamus Conneely; David Cawley, Paul O'Conor; Sean Maguire; Danny North, Eamon Zayed (for Ruairi Keating 92), Evan McMillan.
Dundalk: Peter Cherrie; Sean Gannon, Andy Boyle, Brian Gartland, Dane Massey; Daryl Horgan (for David McMillan 63), Richie Towell, Chris Shields (for Ruaidhri Higgins 67), Darren Meenan; Patrick Hoban, Kurtis Byrne (for Donal McDermott 72).
Referee: Paul McLaughlin