Although the first goal of the match came from Sligo Rovers, St Pats returned to Dublin with one point.
Sligo Rovers hosted St Pats as both teams hoped to retain their positions on the top of the table. Without a doubt this was set to be an intense and competitive game from the get-go. And so it was. Both teams managed shots on target in the opening minutes. Bolger took a left-footed shot on the 3rd minute as he arrived in the box.
However the ball glanced just over Jaro’s crossbar. Mintues later St Pats came extremely close twice in the space of a minute. King delivered a terrific cross which Bermingham headed but the ball fell into Mc Gintys arms. Moments later Forrester curled the ball over Sligo’s defence as Coughlan almost tapped the ball into the net. Mc Ginty was forced to throw his body over the ball urgently. An impressive save from Mc Ginty, but a shot that set the tone of the game.
Sligo Rovers had their first real chance on the 18th minute as Bolger neatly passed the ball towards Parkes on the edge of the box. Parkes wasn’t prepared, stumbled slightly missing the chance. Forrester had another chance 20 minutes in. He was left unmarked and managed to dribble the ball with ease up-field. Horgan however intervened and the ball was sent out of play.
Forrester pressed high for much of the game and created several other chances. The Bit O’Red continued to press forward and attempted several shots in the early first half which all waved high over the crossbar. The crossbar proved an enemy for both sides. Forrester sent in a brilliant ball from a free kick in the 28th minute, Barrett headed the ball but it just tapped off the crossbar. As the half hour mark was reached both teams began to play with equal possession.
The first goal of the game came on the 47th minute. Barrett tackled Gibson with pace in the box resulting in a Sligo penalty. The referee had no hesitation to point towards the spot, where Gibson converted.
Returning for the 2nd half , St Pats initially struggled to gain pace as Sligo dictated the game’s tempo. St Pats looked to respond and stepped up their defensive tactics. Bone was taken off as Burns came on. Sligo Rover’s defensive line remained solid with Mahon and Buckley closing down several threats.
St Pats asserted their dominance further into the game as the Saints won a free-kick due to a tackle from Buckley in the last quarter of the game. Coughlan almost levelled as his glancing header looked to have escaped Mc Ginty who did well to claw the ball to safety.
St Pat’s were thankful that Sligo substitute Johnny Kenny got his radar wrong in the 82nd minute having just come off the bench. After following Walter Figueira’s pass, he curled a shot goalwards but was inches wide of the netting.
Spurred on by this threat St Pats continued to probe at the Sligo defence. King, Coughlan and Forrester impressed with linkage play and made several attempts forcing Mc Ginty off his line.
Both teams continued to drive on to the very end .St Pat’s were also vulnerable to several Sligo counter-attacks that the hosts were unable to turn into a decisive second goal.
The game created tension on the side-line also as both Liam Buckley and Stephen O’ Donnell were given yellow cards during the closing minutes.
Going into extra time St Pats managed to gain a corner on the 95th minute. The game never felt a sealed-deal with both teams pushing to the very end. Every player piled into the box, including Jaros as Burns delievered the corner. Bermingham headed the ball as it sailed by Mc Ginty, equalising in the very last minute.
Both sides face challenging games in the upcoming fixtures. Sligo Rovers head to Oriel Park to take on Dundalk on Friday. St Pats hold a Dublin Derby as they host Shamrock Rovers on Saturday.