It was all about the late goals at Turner’s Cross as Cork City and Sligo Rovers played out a scintillating SSE Airtricity League Premier Division 1-1 draw in front of a crowd of 4,035 on Leeside.
Both sides created chances throughout a game that was initially marred by a serious injury to Garry Buckley, but an own goal - knocked home from a Joseph Ndo corner - with 88 minutes on the clock saw the visitors edge into what was a deserved lead.
However, former Cork City defender Kalen Spillane - on as a late substitute - fouled Mark O’Sullivan deep into added time to concede a penalty and allow Billy Dennehy slot home a late, late spot kick and claim a point for the Rebel Army.
City made two changes from the side that beat Shamrock Rovers last time out - Darren Murphy coming into midfield in place of Colin Healy and Iarfhlaith Davoren coming in for Darren Dennehy shortly before kick off.
Rovers, for their part, brought Danny Ledwith and David Cawley into their first XI.
The hosts started brightly - winning a corner in the first minute but O’Sullivan’s header was easily gather by Gary Rogers.
The Sligo Rovers goalkeeper clattered into Buckley two minutes later though and calls for a penalty were quickly silenced as it became apparent that the midfielder was badly hurt.
The 20-year-old received seven minutes’ treatment before eventually being stretchered from the pitch and replaced by David O’Leary.
Facing former team-mate Davoren, Kieran Djilali caused significant problems down the right through the first half - beating the full back to have his cross cleared by John Dunleavy and then forcing McNulty into a decent save when he picked up the rebound and tried once again.
City might have gone ahead themselves seconds later. McNulty found O’Sullivan from his kick out and the striker flicked the ball on to himself before blazing an effort well over from a decent angle.
O’Sullivan was on duty once again on 23 minutes - picking up the ball from Liam Kearney and taking a couple of touches before firing wide of Rogers’ left-hand post.
It was Sligo’s turn to threaten on the half hour mark when Joseph Ndo - central to so much of Rovers’ good play - found Aaron Greene unmarked in the City box but the Rovers number 20 could only direct his close-range effort off target.
Greene had another excellent chance to break the deadlock on 38 minutes. Gaynor supplied the cross from the left on this occasion and it was left to McNulty to scoop the striker’s final effort away from the City line with a stunning last-ditch save.
Davoren had an opportunity to make a mark against his former club a minute later but his header from David O’Leary’s corner went straight back across Rogers’ goal and out wide.
Kearney was next to try his hand - the winger very unlucky not to get proper contact on a superb ball from Lenihan, though Keane played his part in distracting the Conna man at the last moment with the Rovers’ goal at his mercy.
John Caulfield introduced John Kavanagh for Davoren at the break and the momentum was with the home side early on in the second half as Dan Murray got on the end of a Billy Dennehy free to plant a ball into the back of Jeff Henderson with Rogers off his line.
Ledwith forced McNulty into another top class save with 50 minutes on the clock. The midfielder turned his marker inside out before letting fly with a fantastic effort that needed the City net minder at full stretch to deflect the shot away from danger.
Greene will be disappointed with his next intervention - he was sent clear through by Ledwith only to scuff his final effort with only McNulty left to defend the City goal line.
City changed into a 4-4-2 formation with the introduction of Rob Lehane on the hour mark and immediately looked a more solid prospect - putting Rovers under incredible pressure via a series of corners with 20 minutes remaining.
Ndo cleared O’Sullivan’s header off the line in the 73rd minute, before Lehane was inches away from firing home moments later after evading his marker.
McNulty was called upon yet again on 74 minutes - racing off his line to save from Danny North as the substitute was put through on goal.
However, the breakthrough finally came on 88 minutes when confusion in the City box saw the ball deflected home from Ndo’s corner.
The goal was nothing more than Rovers’ deserved in truth, but there was still time for further drama as Spillane pushed O’Sullivan over the visitors’ box in added time, and referee Paul McLaughlin pointed to the penalty spot.
Billy Dennehy picked up the ball and lashed the ball home low and to his right to earn his side a point.
Cork City: McNulty; Lenihan, Dunleavy (c), Murray, Davoren (Kavanagh ’45); B Dennehy, G Morrissey, Darren Murphy, Buckley (O’Leary ’10, Lehane ’60*), Kearney; O’Sullivan.
*Lehane on for O'Leary
Subs: Kavanagh, Turner, O’Connell, O’Leary, Lehane, Gledhill, Davoren.
Sligo Rovers: Rogers; Keane (c), McMillan, Henderson, Gaynor; Djilali (Spillane ’90), Cawley, O’Conor (Maguire ’82), Ndo, Ledwith (North ’64); Greene.
Subs: Brush, Dykes, Spillane, Maguire, North, Ohiambo, Loftus
Referee: Paul McLaughlin