by Shane Callaghan
Drogheda United extended their unbeaten start to the SSE Airtricity League campaign by holding Sligo Rovers to a 1-1 draw tonight.
Alan Keane’s first-minute opener was cancelled out by Declan O’Brien on 25 minutes as the visitors repelled a number of Rovers attacks to earn a hard-fought point at the Showgrounds.
With City’s visit to Limerick postponed, the Boynesiders were extended an invitation to usurp the Rebels at the summit of the division.
However, both outfits were forced to accept a share of the spoils at the Showgrounds tonight after Declan O’Brien cancelled out Alan Keane’s first-minute opener.
Michael Daly returned to the starting lineup in place of Daire Doyle as Horgan’s only change from the 3-2 victory over Athlone Town on Friday.
United got off to the worst possible start as Keane fired Rovers ahead after just 42 seconds, arriving unmarked at the back post to tap home Aaron Greene’s inviting low cross.
The visitors struggled to get a foot-hold in the encounter as the Bit o’ Red ran riot and almost doubled their lead on 10 minutes, but goalkeeper Dave Ryan was equal to John Russell’s first-time shot.
Drogheda gradually grew into the clash and it was not long before they were level through the evergreen O’Brien.
The 34-year-old, who struck a hat-trick in the win over Athlone last time out, slotted beyond the advancing Gary Rogers to bag his fourth goal in as many days on the 25-minute mark.
Sligo would have started the second half in similar fashion as they began the first if not for the intervention of Alan McNally, who produced a goal-line clearance to keep out Evan McMillan’s header two minutes after the restart.
Ian Baraclough’s charges grew more threatening as the minutes ticked on as Ryan tipped a Greene free-kick over the bar on the hour mark, before Russell’s bid was rebuffed by the woodwork with 15 minutes remaining.
Jeff Henderson will be thanking his lucky stars that referee Padraigh Sutton did not feel that his blatent 82nd minute challenge on Drogheda substitute Austin McCann warranted a red card. The defender was stretchered off and replaced by Daire Doyle.
The travelling fans were given a scare in the dying moments after the hosts had the ball in the back of the net, only for referee Padraig Sutton to chalk it off as Drogheda held on to kept their unbeaten start to the season intact.
by Róisín Phillips
Drogheda United make the trip across the country to Sligo tomorrow for their second game in the space of three days.
Sligo Rovers season hasn’t yet started at all as they lie a disappointing second from bottom in the table, having lost their last four league games. Drogheda United, meanwhile, are again confounding the critics and sit just two points behind league leaders Cork City in second place.
Robbie Horgan believes that last year’s FAI Ford Cup winners are likely to play in 4-3-3 formation but given the chopping and changing that Ian Baraclough has engaged in in recent games, that is certainly not guaranteed.
Baraclough will be without the services of Danny North, Seamus Conneely, Gavin Peers and Kieran Djilali while Drogheda’s only certain absentees are Michéal Schlingermann and Paul Crowley. Both players are training lightly at the moment but are still a fortnight away from returning to full time duties. Cathal Brady will be assessed ahead of the game but is expected to feature. Neither team is carrying any suspensions.
Drogheda dominated their game on Friday against Athlone Town and Robbie Horgan has expressed his disappointment that they conceded two late goals. He will be focussed on tightening his defence on Monday night.
“I want us to defend better than we did on Friday. I was delighted to get three points and I certainly don’t want to take away from that however we should not have given away those two late goals. With the Limerick v Cork game being postponed, we have a great chance to go top of the table and that’s something that will focus the players.
“Sligo are very strong on set pieces, especially with Joseph N’do, and we have to be prepared for that and defend accordingly.”
Ian Baraclough voiced similar defensive concerns with this side having lost by just one goal in each of their last four league outings.
“We’ll want to keep a clean sheet first and foremost – we’ve been punished for making mistakes in the last couple of games and it sounds obvious but it’s where we want to start.
“Turning our chances into goals and being that bit more clinical – Derry’s goal on Friday was a prime example in having that attempt from distance and reaping the rewards. We are getting into positions, we are being denied by some outstanding goalkeeping but with more attempts at goal and persistence it will come.”
Sligo Rovers v Drogheda United kicks off at 7:45pm.
Paul O’Connor (David Cawley 75’)
Sean Maguire (Derek Odhiambo 68’)
Gavan Holohan (Austin McCann 66’ Daire Doyle 83’)
Eric Foley (Stephen Maher 66’)
Alan Keane 1’
Declan O’Brien 24’
Ewan McMillan (yellow) 55’
Jeff Henderson (yellow) 83’
Eric Foley (yellow) 37’
Shane Grimes (yellow) 74’