Keane strikes early as Rovers draw with Drogs
Sligo Rovers drew 1-1 with Drogheda United in The Showgrounds on Monday night.
Rovers had the majority of the 1,887 in attendance on their feet after just 40 seconds when Alan Keane put the Bit o'Red in front.
The Louth side levelled the game on 24 minutes as Declan O'Brien superbly placed the ball past Gary Rogers in the Sligo goal. John Russell hit the crossbar for Sligo late on, while Aaron Greene had the ball in the United net in the dying stages only for it to be ruled out for a push on a Drogheda defender.
Sligo went in search of a first league win since the opening day without Gavin Peers (knee), Raffaele Cretaro (calf), Seamus Conneely (groin) and Danny North (toe).
Kieran Djilali returned to the squad having missed last Friday's defeat to Derry City. Manager Ian Baraclough made two changes with Djilali and Paul O'Conor coming in for Eric Odhiambo and David Cawley respectively.
Drogs boss Robbie Horgan was without goalkeeper Michael Schlingermann and midfielder Paul Crowley through injury.
Horgan made just the one change to the team that defeated Athlone last weekend. Michael Daly replacing Daire Doyle in midfield.
Those in attendance had barely taken their seats when the Bit o'Red captured the lead. Sean Maguire's over-cooked ball from the right was picked up by Greene on the opposite side. The former Shamrock Rovers winger sent the ball back across goal to the back post for the incoming Alan Keane to stab home with 40 seconds played. This was Sligo's first league goal since Evan McMillan's late strike against Athlone on the season's maiden day.
Russell went close to doubling Rovers' lead on nine minutes as the home team looked the more threatening during the opening moments. Maguire robbed Shane Grimes of possession on the half-way line before making his way unchallenged into the United area. The West Ham loanee then teed up Russell who failed to get the trajectory behind his shot which David Ryan dealt with comfortably.
The Boynesiders began to put Sligo under pressure soon after and Gary O'Neill's smart turn past Joseph Ndo saw him open up some space for himself 20 yards from goal on 13 minutes. His resulting drive forcing Rogers to go full stretch, but the Drogheda striker couldn't find the inside of the far post.
Drogheda persisted and were rewarded for doing so on 24 minutes. Declan O'Brien receiving the ball at the edge of the area before expertly placing the ball under Rogers and into the far corner of the net.
O'Neill skyed a chance from a Gavin Brennan knock down on 32, while Ross Gaynor sent his free from the right over Ryan's crossbar five minutes later.
The FAI Cup holders threatened to expose the United back line on several occasions, but were unable to pierce a stiff Drogs rearguard as the teams went in level at the break.
Brennan almost saw his low cross from the left sliced into the Sligo net by Jeff Henderson half a minute into the second half. McMillan saw his powerful header from a Gaynor corner diverted away three minutes later.
Maguire did well to control a ball from Djilali on his chest before quickly spinning and shooting from the edge of the Drogheda box on 51 minutes. But the former Waterford United man couldn't keep his shot down as he went in search of his first goal for the Showgrounds side.
Ryan had to ensure Greene's spinning free kick didn't creep under his crossbar on 63 minutes. The Drogheda second choice goalkeeper punching the ball away to safety as it looked to sneak in behind him.
Horgan introduced both Austin McCann and Stephen Maher on 67 minutes as he looked to bolster the options in the Drogheda midfield. While Sligo replaced Maguire with Eric Odhiambo as the former Hereford United man occupied the lone striker's role.
Russell saw his effort from close range come back off the crossbar with 16 minutes left. Gaynor's searching ball from deep found the Galway native who couldn't keep his balance under the close attention of Alan McNally.
O'Brien nearly robbed the points for his side as he almost got on to the end of a Brennan cross from the United right a minute later. The ball narrowly evading his out-stretched leg at the back post.
Sligo had the ball in the Drogheda net with a minute remaining only for the goal to be disallowed. Ndo's corner was pounced on by Greene at the front post but referee Padraigh Sutton adjudged the winger to have fouled his marker in the run up.
Sligo Rovers: Gary Rogers; Alan Keane, Jeff Henderson, Evan McMillan, Ross Gaynor; Aaron Greene, Joseph Ndo, John Russell, Paul O'Conor (for David Cawley 75), Kieran Djilali; Sean Maguire (for Eric Odhiambo 68).
Subs not used: Richard Brush, Jake Dykes, Jordan Loftus, Kalen Spillane.
Drogheda United: David Ryan; Michael Daly, Shane Grimes, Alan McNally, Ciaran McGuigan; Gavin Brennan, Carl Walshe, Eric Foley (for Stephen Maher 67), Gavan Holohan ((for Austin McCann 67 (for Daire Doyle 84)); Declan O'Brien, Gary O'Neill.
Subs not used: Dylan Connolly, Paul Andrews, Cathal Brady, Philip Hughes.
Referee: Padraigh Sutton