Dundalk’s unbeaten start to the season continued as they ground out a hard-fought point against Sligo Rovers at The Showgrounds on Saturday night.
Faced with a pitch that resembled an end of the season game as opposed to Sligo’s first of the campaign, both sides struggled to play any sort of attractive football.
The home side had the better of the limited chances that were created on the night but Dundalk stood firm to record a second successive clean sheet and extend their beaten start to four games.
Stephen O’Donnell made four changes to the side that beat Finn Harps on Monday night with Mark Connolly, Greg Sloggett, Daniel Kelly and Patrick Hoban all restored to the starting XI.
Mayowa Animasahun also returned from injury to take his place on the bench but Brian Gartland and David McMillan missed out through illness.
A forgettable first-half ended scoreless with the woeful surface hindering both teams. Dundalk’s clearest opening fell to SWAI Player of the Month nominee Steven Bradley but he couldn’t get enough power into his effort to trouble Ed McGinty. At the other end, Nathan Shepperd went through the half untroubled.
HT: Sligo Rovers 0-0 Dundalk FC
Things improved slightly in the second half and Lewis Banks looped a header onto the top of the Dundalk crossbar in the 55th minute before Aidan Keena pulled one wide of Nathan Shepperd’s goal 10 minutes later.
Greg Sloggett fired over the top after being set up by a Patrick Hoban knockdown before substitute John Martin fired straight at McGinty and it looked like another sub, Keith Ward was going to break the deadlock when the ball bobbled around the Sligo penalty area from a Robbie Benson corner but the hosts cleared.
Lilywites head coach Stephen O’Donnell was booked by referee Neil Doyle as things became even more scrappy as the night wore on and a disappointing game ended in a stalemate.
FT: Sligo Rovers 0-0 Dundalk FC
SLIGO ROVERS: Ed McGinty; Lewis Banks, Garry Buckley, Nando Pijnaker, Paddy Kirk; Niall Morahan, David Cawley (Seamus Keogh 77); Will Fitzgerald (Mark Byrne 77), Adam McDonnell, Karl O’Sullivan; Aidan Keena (Jordan Hamilton 77). Subs not used: Richard Brush (GK), Colm Horgan, Shane Blaney, Cillian Heaney, Max Mata, Kailin Barlow.
DUNDALK FC: Nathan Shepperd; Lewis Macari, Mark Connolly, Andy Boyle, Sam Bone; Dan Williams (Keith Ward 77), Greg Sloggett; Steven Bradley (Joe Adams 90), Robbie Benson, Daniel Kelly (John Martin 54); Patrick Hoban. Subs not used: Peter Cherrie (GK), Paul Doyle, Mayowa Animasahun, Mark Hanratty, Ryan O’Kane.
REFEREE: Neil Doyle. ATTENDANCE: 3,257.