Sligo Rovers fell further behind Airtricity League leaders St Patrick's Athletic on Saturday evening after they only managed to produce a scoreless draw against a well-organised Bohemians side at the Showgrounds. Having now gone four league games without a goal, the Bit o'Red now sit seven points behind the Saints with one game in hand as their mid-season blip continues. Bohs rode their luck on occasions as they had to rely on a goal-line clearance and the width of the post to keep them in the game.
The home side were without Danny Ventre, Evan McMillan (both knee), Lee Lynch and Raffaele Cretaro (both hamstring) due to injury. Top scorer Anthony Elding served the first of a four game ban having been sent off against both Shamrock Rovers and Dundalk in recent weeks. 19-year-old striker Martin made his first start for the league champions in place of the suspended centre forward.
Luke Byrne missed out for the Gypsies courtesy of injury, while Andy Mulligan didn't make the trip west due to family commitments. Owen Heary, Derek Pender and Keith Buckley all passed late fitness tests to take their respective places in the starting eleven.
Sligo almost opened the scoring on two occasions within the first ten minutes of this game. Straight from kick-off, Martin found Aaron Greene down the Bohs right. Greene's cross was met at the back post by the incoming Kieran Djilali who was unlucky to see his goal-bound shot blocked off the line by the attentive Heary.
Rovers went close again on nine minutes at a sun-soaked Showgrounds. Djilali's cross from the right hung in the air for Martin, who did well to see off the attention of two Bohs defenders. The Donegal native's header crashed against the butt of Damien Delany's post with the goalkeeper beaten.
Delany had to be alert to dive at the feet of Greene inside his own six yard box on 24 minutes. Gavin Peers' through ball found Alan Keane in space on the right. Keane in turn found Greene. The Bohs net minder did well to grasp the ball away from Greene's feet just as he steadied to pull the trigger.
Sligo 'keeper Gary Rogers was almost left red faced four minutes later. The Rovers number one failed to catch Karl Moore's swerving free kick, instead deflecting it toward his own goal. Luckily for Rogers, Rovers centre half Jeff Henderson was alert to clear any danger.
Aaron Callaghan's outfit almost grabbed an opener against the run of play with four minutes of the first half remaining. Striker Dave Scully got on the end of former Sligo player Kevin Devaney's cross, but the imposing centre forward failed to steer his header toward goal.
After a pedestrian start from both sides to the second half, Rovers went close through a David Cawley volley on 55 minutes and a Martin effort two minutes later. Peers saw his header sail over Delany's crossbar from a Joseph Ndo corner on 64 minutes.
In an attempt to turn chances into goals, Sligo boss Ian Baraclough introduced Danny North to the mix for with 16 minutes remaining. This was North's first league appearance for the Bit o'Red since he suffered a cruciate injury last summer.
But it was Bohs who went close to the game's first goal on 78 minutes. Substitute Chris Lyons' stole in behind the Rovers defence only to see his attempted lob end up on the roof of Rogers' net. Two minutes later, Ross Gaynor met Cawley's cross with a thundering volley which sneaked narrowly wide of the target.
A clearly frustrated Sligo side came close to an elusive winner twice within the space of two minutes. Roberto Lopes did well to poke the ball off the toe of North only yards from goal on 89 minutes, before Peers' rasping drive from 20 yards narrowly missed the target a minute later.
Sligo Rovers: Gary Rogers; Alan Keane, Jeff Henderson (for Danny North 74), Gavin Peers, Iarfhlaith Davoren; Liam Martin (for Ross Gaynor 69), David Cawley, Joseph Ndo, Seamus Conneely, Kieran Djilali (for Pascal Millien 83); Aaron Greene.
Subs not used: Ciaran Kelly, Ryan Connolly, Marty Owens, Jake Dykes.
Bohemians: Dean Delany; Owen Heary, Roberto Lopes, Dave Mulcahy, Derek Pender; Kevin Devaney (for Chris Lyons 67), Ryan McEvoy, Keith Buckley, Ciaran Nangle, Karl Moore (for Stephen Traynor 79); Dave Scully (for Michael Scott 86).
Subs not used: Greg Murray, Michael Barker, Shane Murray, Kevin O'Leary.
Referee: Paul Tuite.