Sligo’s David McMillan grabs late equaliser as St Patrick’s Athletic extend their lead
Anto Flood’s first-half strike proves crucial in stretching the Airtricity League leaders’ advantage at the top of the table to four points
Sligo’s Gavin Peers and Christy Fagan during the game at the Showgrounds. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
Sligo Rovers 1, St Patrick’s Athletic 1
Anto Flood was the hero for St Patrick’s Athletic after his first-half strike proved crucial in stretching the Airtricity League leaders’ advantage at the top of the table to four points in a mediocre game at the Showgrounds yesterday.
A 3,180 strong attendance basked in sweltering heat as both sides pulled out all the stops, with the Saints anxious to make immediate amends for their Europa League exit to Zalgiris earlier in the week.
But Liam Buckley’s side had to withstand a spirited second-half fightback by Sligo, who squared the match when Evan McMillan scored eight minutes from time.
The visitors hit the front in the 16th minute when a great clearance from Brendan Clarke released Anto Flood to slot the ball low past Gary Rogers.
Promising early play by Conan Byrne and Ger O’Brien got the Saints off to a lively start before Joseph Ndo went close for the hosts.
David McMillan forced Brendan Clarke into a smart save in the 14th minute and David Cawley was denied by another top-drawer save by the goalkeeper in the 23rd minute, before Stephen Maher went close for the visitors after 28 minutes, following a Conan Byrne corner.
Sligo went straight into attack at the start of the second half, forcing three corners in a row, but somehow the visitors goal survived. Clarke came to his side’s rescue again in the 56th minute, finger-tipping a Gavin Peers’ header over.
Greg Bolger, who caused a lot of problems for the home side in the closing stages, had a shot turned behing by Rogers, as the visitors went in search off all three points.
Then with victory, and a six-point lead, looking well within their grasp, Ian Baraclough’s side struck for the equalizer.
A corner by substitute Kieran Djilali, who made an immediate impact, caused confusion in the St Pat’s defence, with Séamus Conneely sending a looping header to the back post which found centre-half Evan McMillan who finished to the top corner with a header82nd minute.
SLIGO ROVERS: Rogers, Keane, Davoren, Peers, E McMillan, Cawley, Ndo, D McMillan, Lynch,Connelly, Elding. Subs: Djilali for Ndo (67 mins), Martin for Lynch (75 mins).
ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC: Clarke, O’Brien, Kenna,Price, Bolger, Byrne, McFaul, Bermingham, Forrester, Flood, Maher. Subs: Kelly for Forrester (60mins), Gannon for Byrne (75 mins), Fagan for Flood (86 mins).
Referee: Paul Tuite (Dublin).