Drogheda United and Sligo Rovers played out a forgettable stalemate at Head In The Game Park, but Sligo will take heart at least that their wretched recent losing streak is over.
Centre back Daniel O'Reilly went closest to snatching a winner 10 minutes before the end. He met Ronan Murray’s corner with his head but his effort beat the goalkeeper and not the crossbar.
Johnny Kenny was left on the bench by Liam Buckley, with the teenager’s involvement with the Republic of Ireland U19 training camp at Loughborough University this week limiting his time spent with the squad.
There was a start for former Bohs forward Andre Wright but Ugandan Melvyn Lorenzen was left out. Greg Bolger was also missing from the Sligo squad.
The Bit O'Red arrived in Drogheda having suffered seven straight defeats across three competitions including four defeats in the league which has allowed Shamrock Rovers and St Patrick’s Athletic to leave them their hopes of a sustained title tilt in tatters.
They suffered a further blow in midweek when top seven-goal goal scorer Jordan Gibson left to return to England with Carlisle United.
United’s recent form is almost as bad as Sligo’s but Tim Clancy’s team arrested that slide in satisfying fashion two weeks ago with a derby win over Dundalk at Oriel Park. On an emotional night for the club, it was a fitting tribute to academy coach David Conroy who lost his life in a road traffic incident that week.
This was United’s first home game since the tragedy and the club and supporters paid tribute to Conroy, whose son Alex is a volunteer with the club, before kick-off. His Under 14 team and players from Laytown United’s academy lined the pitchside during a minute’s applause.
Clancy selected Luke Heeney for the suspended Gary Deegan in their only change from the derby victory.
Drogheda were unbeaten in their previous five meetings with Sligo prior to this third meeting of the season and will have been keen to change that recent record, but only to stop their own rot of recent weeks.
The visitors looked marginally better in an entertaining, if goalless, first half. Wright was denied a debut goal by a Joe Redmond block while Robbie McCourt’s shot from distance tested David Odumosu.
Drogheda didn’t test his opposite number Ed McGinty in the opening 45 minutes but looked threatening on occasion as their pacey front three of Darragh Markey, Mark Doyle and Jordan Adeyemo sought to breakaway.
Their best attacking moment came in the second period when Doyle met Conor Kane’s cross but saw his volley blocked. Adam McDonnell shot wide in Sligo’s only glimpse.
The closest the game had to a goal was late on when Daniel O’Reilly’s header crashed off the crossbar, after Ronan Murray’s corner. Sligo cleared and neither side managed to better that.
United boss Tim Clancy, just back from a three-game suspension following his sending off in the FAI Cup defeat to Derry City, was shown red again at the death for what Rob Harvey deemed was unacceptable levels of dissent towards the refereeing team. He now faces another ban.
Drogheda United: David Odumosu; James Brown, Joe Remond, Daniel O’Reilly, Conor Kane; Killian Phillips, Luke Heeney, Jake Hyland (Ronan Murray, 46); Darragh Markey (James Clarke, 85), Jordan Adeyemo (Ahu Obhakhan, 85), Mark Doyle.
Sligo Rovers: Ed McGinty; Lewis Banks, Garry Buckley, John Mahon, Robbie McCourt; Niall Morahan (Johnny Kenny, 76), Adam McDonnell, David Cawley; Ryan DeVries (Mark Byrne, 82), Andre Wright (Seamas Keogh, 76), Walter Figueira.
Referee: Rob Harvey (Dublin)