Sligo Rovers 0 - 0 St Patricks Athletic
SLIGO ROVERS stretched its lead to nine points at the top of the Airtricity League when they shared a scoreless draw with St Patricks Athletic in the Stadium of Light at Inchicore last night (Friday).
Their three main challengers -- Drogheda, Shamrock Rovers and St Pats -- have now all failed to win against Sligo in key fixtures this month.
If Rovers can preserve its nine point advantage for six more weeks then it is odds-on it will repeat the feat of the 1936/1937 team and also win the League before the final match of the series.
St Pats and Shamrock Rovers each have a game in hand on Sligo and could reduce the lead margin to eight points and each has to come to the Showgrounds in October.
Rovers have now completed all its games in Dublin but still has tricky trips to Cork especially and to Drogheda in the coming weeks. Sligo has lost just once in 22 outings.
It was in Inchicore in 2011 that Rovers had oceans of chances -- and only needed to bag a win that night -- to probably win the Airtricity League, in which they finished runners-up last year.
It was a nice feeling, then, leaving Inchicore last night - in 2011 Sligo headed for home knowing in their heart of heart they would not take the League title. Last night supporters departed Dublin knowing in their heart of hearts that the title is most likely coming west.
The best chances last night, for either side, came early and late in the game.
Firstly, Gavin Peers had a great chance in the 20th minute to give Rovers an early lead in a tightly contested first half. He met a free kick superbly flighted from 40 yards by Joseph N'Do, from six yards Peers headed straight at Barry Murphy guarding the Pats goals.
The Dublin side were more impressive and Christy Fagan missed a great chance in the 73rd minute to blow the League title race wide open, shooting wide when it seemed easier to score.
Rainy conditions in Dublin last night ensured that goalkeepers had to be alert. Pats caused Gary Rogers some discomfort in the Sligo goals with a number of free kicks inside the opening quarter.
Pats had opened the contest crisply with James Chamber - replaced late in the game -- imposing his influence in the key midfield tussles.
However Pats ran short of ideas to match its possession and ambition. The Dubliners also lacked penetration. The Dubliners have the best defence in the entire League but four teams below them in the table have scored more goals.
An example was the 46th minute when Christopher Forrester released O’Connor into the freedom of Inchicore, but from a threatening position, the winger produced a tame 'stab' straight at Rogers.
Rovers were happy to absorb, absorb and then counter-attack, with Mark Quigley well utilised in that role.
In the quarter of the game St Pats pushed hard for the win which would have opened up the League race and they came close with three good chances.
In the 73rd minute, Pats sub Jake Kelly released Christy Fagan through on goal in the 73rd minute, but with only Rogers to beat, Pats top scorer this season dragged a poor attempt yards wide of the upright.
Fagan had another chance to be the home hero in the 76th minute. Ian Bermingham raced clear beyond Alan Keane, but his inviting cross was bundled wide from just six yards by the inrushing Fagan.
Another Pats sub Ryan Coombes came in the 81st minute and his cracking drive from 20 yards was well held by Rogers in the Sligo goals.
But it was the other goalkeeper, Barry Murphy who ensured that Pats didnt go home with 'egg on its chin.' In the final minute Murphy produced a sprawling save to deny Danny Ventre, who had met Lee Lynch's cross from the the left.St Patrick’s Athletic:
Barry Murphy, Ger O’Brien, Conor Kenna, Kenny Browne, Ian Bermingham, Christopher Forrester, James Chambers, Jake Carroll, Greg Bolger, Sean O’Connor, Christy Fagan. Subs used : Darren Meenan for O'Connor 66th minute, Jake Kelly for Forrester 70th minute, Ryan Coombes for Chambers 81st minute.Sligo Rovers:
Gary Rogers, Alan Keane, Jason McGuinness, Gavin Peers, Ross Gaynor, Seamus Conneely, Danny Ventre, Joseph N'Do, David Cawley, Romuald Boco; Mark Quigley. Subs used: Lee Lynch for Cawley 61st minute and Liam Buchanan for Quigley 92nd minute. Referee:
Neil Doyle (Dublin).