Pat’s hold Rovers at the Showgrounds

Kevin Toner cancelled out Jack Keaney’s opener as Sligo Rovers and St Patrick’s Athletic played out a draw at the Showgrounds.

Keaney’s free-kick via a number of deflections gave the Bit O’Red the lead with ten minutes to go, but Toner’s volley barely one minute later claimed a point for Harry Kenny’s men.

Against a Sligo team without a number of key players due to injury, suspension and even international commitments, Pat’s had the better of the early play.

Dave Webster couldn’t hook his early opportunity over Ed McGinty’s head, while Toner’s cross bounced off the top of the Rovers goal shortly after.

Sligo took time to settle into this one and Ronan Coughlan had Saints goalkeeper Brendan Clarke on his toes 16 minutes in.

The Rovers attacker cutting inside but Clarke was alert to swipe the ball from Coughlan at the end line.

Pat’s raised their play once more and went close twice in quick succession through Ciaran Kelly and Gary Shaw.

Kelly wriggling free of the Sligo defence at a Mikey Drennan corner, but the centre half couldn’t steer his free header goalward.

While Shaw’s clever turn allowed him space to shoot from the edge of the area, but his rasper cracked the crossbar with McGinty beaten.

The home side had sight at goal late in the opening period through both Romeo Parkes and Daryl Fordyce. But neither were able to trouble Clarke as both efforts sailed wide.

Pat’s were able to scramble away a Lewis Banks header from a Cawley corner just after the restart.

The oncoming Clarke then did just enough to put off Parkes, after good work from both Fordyce and Ronan Murray in the build up.

Drennan should have had Pat’s in the lead on 62. But he somehow ballooned the ball over the crossbar from directly under it, after sustained pressure following a Saints corner.

Rovers skipper Kyle Callan-McFadden then spurned a great chance to open the evening’s scoring when he got his co-ordinates all wrong, heading over from Keaney’s clever set-piece.

Clarke spilled Parkes’ speculative drive on the next attack but recovered in time.

While both Murray and Dave Webster worked the respective opposition net minder mid-way through the half.

McGinty keeping hold of Webster’s powerful header, while Clarke went full stretch to keep out Murray’s long-ranger.

McGinty had to tip Shaw’s header over his goal with a quarter of an hour to go, as this game hung in the balance.

The game’s opener eventually arrived when Keaney’s free-kick from 30 yards, took a touch off a number of players before the ball finally making its way past a flat-footed Clarke.

The lead last less than a minute however.

Shaw’s initial header came back off McGinty’s far post, but the danger wasn’t cleared as the ball landed to the waiting Toner who fired an unstoppable volley to the Sligo net.

Sligo Rovers: Ed McGinty; Niall Morahan, Jack Keaney, Kyle Callan-McFadden, Lewis Banks; Sam Warde; David Cawley, Daryl Fordyce (Kris Twardek 86); Ronan Coughlan; Romeo Parkes, Ronan Murray. 

St Patrick’s Athletic: Brendan Clarke; Ciaran Kelly, Kevin Toner, David Webster; Simon Madden, Ian Bermingham; Darragh Markey (Chris Forrester 82), Rhys McCabe, Cian Coleman; Mikey Drennan, Gary Shaw (Jake Walker 93).

Referee: John McLoughlin.

Attendance: 2,336