Dundalk might be flying high in Europe right now but they dropped a big two points in their battle to get back there next season after being held to a scoreless draw by Finn Harps at Oriel Park.

For the second Sunday in succession, Filippo Giovagnoli made 10 changes to the side which had played in the Europa League three days earlier with Brian Gartland the sole survivor from the side which beat KÍ Klaksvik at the Aviva Stadium to ensure group stage football for the Louth men.

The changes failed to pay off, however, as they struggled to break down a stubborn Harps side who took a huge point in their battle to avoid the drop.

The result means Dundalk remain in sixth place in the table, albeit with two games in hand on Waterford FC who currently sit in third place in the table.

Ollie Horgan's men started the brighter of the two sides without creating anything major of note.

Dundalk gradually grew into the game and should have had the lead on eight minutes when Jordan Flores' cross from the right picked out the inrushing David McMillan who fired wide from six yards out with the goal at his mercy.

Kosovar Sadiki headed over from a Barry McNamee corner three minutes later for Harps in what was their best chance of the half.

Nathan Oduwa then had a series of chances to put Dundalk ahead before the break. The Londoner firstly headed wide from a John Mountney cross on 27 minutes before being denied twice by Mark McGinley in quick succession.

Duffy shows his frustration as a chance goes begging

The former Donegal GAA netminder saved with his feet to deny Oduwa his first Dundalk goal on 41 minutes after a mazy run into the box and a minute later McGinley was called into action to turn another effort from the winger around the post.

Then in stoppage time at the end of the half Oduwa was unlucky not to win a penalty after appearing to be caught in the box by Shane McEleney but referee Paul McLaughlin instead pointed for a goal kick.

Barring an effort from Flores at the start of the second half, Dundalk struggled to break down their opponents on the restart with the more established quartet of Michael Duffy, Patrick McEleney, Greg Sloggett and Stefan Colovic all introduced either side of the hour mark to try and change the game.

The magic moment almost arrived on 72 minutes when McEleney spotted McGinley off his line from a free kick just inside the Harps half but his effort flashed just over the bar.

Sloggett then had another good chance seven minutes later when a diagonal pass from Chris Shields picked out his run into the box but it came off his shoulder and into the grateful arms of McGinley.

Barry McNamee then had a rare chance for Harps on 80 minutes when he turned to get a shot away but his effort was straight at Aaron McCarey.

Sloggett then had strong penalty appeals turned away three minutes later after being pushed in the back from a corner before McEleney headed over from another on the 90 minute mark.

Duffy then had a late chance to win it for the home side with a left foot strike in the 95th minute but it flashed over as Harps held out for a huge point in their battle to avoid the drop.

Dundalk: Aaron McCarey; John Mountney, Brian Gartland, Andy Boyle, Cameron Dummigan; Chris Shields, Jordan Flores (Greg Sloggett 55); Daniel Kelly (Michael Duffy 55), Will Patching (Patrick McEleney 55), Nathan Oduwa (Stefan Colovic 63); David McMillan.

Subs not used: Gary Rogers, Daniel Cleary, Joshua Gatt.

Finn Harps: Mark McGinley; David Webster, Kosovar Sadiki, Shane McEleney, Stephen Folan, Mark Russell; Karl O’Sullivan (Adam Foley 75), Gareth Harkin (Ryan Connolly 75), Leo Donnellan (Tony McNamee 94); Barry McNamee; Alexander Kogler (Mark Coyle 67).

Subs not used: Raffaele Cretaro, Sam Todd, Patrick McGarvey.

Referee: Paul McLaughlin (Monaghan).