Sligo Rovers’ title hopes drawing to a close

Solid Cork City hold champions to a scoreless draw at the Showgrounds

Sligo Rovers manager Ian Baraclough saw his side held scoreless. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Sligo Rovers manager Ian Baraclough saw his side held scoreless. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Mon, Sep 30, 2013, 22:21

Sligo Rovers 0 Cork City 0

Sligo Rovers’ lingering hopes of winning back-to-back League of Ireland Premier Division titles look to be over after a sturdy Cork City held them to a scoreless draw at the Showgrounds last night.

Stuart Ashton’s rapidly-improving side allowed Sligo very little leeway and defended solidly in the tense closing minutes as the industrious Jeff Henderson almost snatched a dramatic late winner for the home side.

Rovers put the visitors under pressure straight from the kick off but Aaron Greene was unable to get to the ball before City goalkeeper Mark McNulty on 10 minutes as the home side found space up along the left wing. Shane Duggan went close for the visitors a minute later as Cork mounted their first real attack. A long-range effort by Daryl Horgan was off target after 19 minutes.

Solid defending
Solid Cork defending, with skipper Dan Murray alert to any danger, kept Sligo at bay while Gearóid Morrissey and Ciarán Kilduff were always lurking dangerously up front for the visitors. Kilduff went close from a from a Horgan assist in the 26th minute.

Greene’s probing ball into a crowded box as the half-hour mark approached caused some anxious moments for the Cork defence before a Henderson effort whistled inches past McNulty’s goal.

Sligo came close to opening the scoring in the 37th minute when David McMillan got possession in front of goal but his shot from close range flew narrowly wide.

Former Republic of Ireland international Colin Healy went close for the visitors in the 65th minute and Kilduff wasn’t far off target two minutes earlier.

The league champions struggled as the second half progressed as Cork’s measured play deprived the home side of a way through.

Sligo supporters became restless as the game wore on with their slim hopes of retaining their title receding by the minute.

Gary Rogers saved Sligo with a top-drawer stop to deny Kilduff in the 76th minute and his opposite number McNulty denied David McMillan a minute later.