Battle of the Rovers ends in stalemate
Updated: Friday, 03 May 2013 23:11
Karl Sheppard’s late header snatched yet another draw for Shamrock Rovers and saw Sligo Rovers lose top spot in the Airtricity League Premier Division.
David Cawley’s goal for the champions early in the second half looked to have heaped further pressure on their struggling predecessors.
However, Sheppard nodded in Jason McGuinness’s flick with five minutes left to give the Hoops their seventh draw in 11 league games.
The result sees Sligo drop behind Derry City on goal difference at the top of the table, with the home side 13 points behind in seventh.
There was further disappointment for the visitors in a dramatic finale, as Anthony Elding’s straight red card for a tackle on Stephen Rice means the league’s top scorer will get a lengthy suspension.
The point does little for the Hoops’ league position, and means they have picked up just 13 from a possible 33, although it may bring a welcome boost in confidence for Sheppard.
The Hoops’ injury problems eased as Pat Sullivan and McGuinness returned to shore up a defence that conceded two late goals in last week’s defeat at UCD.
Sligo’s only change was enforced as Ryan Connolly took the place of the suspended Ross Gaynor.
An entertaining but tight opening half saw both sides working hard to cancel each other out in midfield.
The Hoops enjoyed more possession, with Sligo posing a danger on the break.
It took the home side 25 minutes to convert their territorial advantage into chances, as Evan McMillan and Alan Keane denied Ronan Finn and James Chambers with two blocks in quick succession.
Gary McCabe and Sheppard then combined on the right to set up Rice, whose shot was easily saved by Rogers.
The Sligo netminder was called into action again just before the break to prevent McCabe opening the scoring.
Sheppard held off Gavin Peers and squared for McCabe, but the winger’s effort was weak.
The home side were the masters of their own downfall as they gifted Sligo the opening goal on 56 minutes through a combination of errors from Barry Murphy and Danny Ledwith.
The keeper’s wayward clearance caught left-back Ledwith off guard, allowing Cawley to pounce on the loose ball.
The Sligo man kept his composure to slot the ball past Murphy.
Rogers was fortunate to get away with a blunder of his own at the other end soon after.
He failed to hold McGuinness’s long-range shot and was lucky to see the ball bounce behind for a corner.
Ian Baraclough decided to tighten things in midfield as the home side chased an equaliser and Danny Ventre replaced the tiring Joseph Ndo.
In an effort to reverse their fortunes, the Hoops introduced Sean O’Connor and Ciaran Kilduff, with both contributing to the equaliser.
Kilduff successfully chased a lost cause and hooked the ball back for O’Connor to whip across goal.
McGuinness was first to the cross and headed it back to a waiting Sheppard, who made no mistake from five yards.
The drama did not end there as Elding was given a straight red card at the restart for challenge on Rice, who was left clutching his leg in the centre circle.
Rovers could have snatched an unlikely victory in injury-time as Kilduff’s header rebounded off a post, but the ten men saw out the remaining minutes for the point.
Shamrock Rovers: Murphy, Sullivan, McGuinness, Foran, Ledwith, Rice, Chambers (Kilduff 78), Finn, McCabe, Dennehy (O’Connor 78), Sheppard.
Subs not used: Brush, Kehoe, obinson, McCormack, Elebert.
Sligo Rovers: Rogers, Keane, Peers, , McMillan, Greene, Millien ( Henderson 90), Lynch, Cawley, Ndo (Ventre 75), Connolly (Djilali 46) Elding.
Subs not used: Dykes, Martin, Owens, McFadden.
Referee: Alan Kelly.
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