Gerard Grimes reports from United Park
Sligo Rovers will be a part of the ten-team Premier Division next season after they reached safety with a scoreless draw away to Drogheda United on Friday night.
It was Drogheda who started on the front foot in this game, however they failed to create an opening as Sean Brennan turned well and played the ball to Adam Wixted but his cross was well cut out.
In what was a cagey opening, it was a defensive mix up that almost gave Sligo the lead as Kevin Farragher failed to deal with a cross and almost put the ball into his own net, only for goalkeeper Stephen McGuinness to scramble back to gather it on the line.
Drogheda’s first chance came after a quarter of an hour as Stephen Dunne played a short throw in to Brennan, who controlled and volleyed, but goalkeeper Shaun Patton was equal to it.
Sligo began to grow more into the game and John Russell looked to have a one-on-one chance 20 minutes in but he couldn’t beat McGuinness to the ball.
The Bit o’Red went close to taking the lead on the half hour mark as Jamie McDonagh’s low effort went narrowly wide of the far post.
Sligo had a great chance to take the lead five minutes before half time as Rhys McCabe’s cross was me by Greg Moorhouse but the forward couldn’t head his effort goalwards.
The second half started off at a far faster pace than the first and within the first four minutes, Stephen McGuinness’ goal had been threatened three times.
First, Jack Keaney’s drive from 25 yards forced McGuinness into a save before Moorhouse narrowly failed to connect with McCabe’s cross.
A minute later, Gary Boylan’s cross into the box bounced back off the crossbar.
A Drogheda free kick taken by Brennan on 50 minutes brought about the Boynesiders first chance of the second half as Mulhall flicked it on for Meaney to head across goal where Mulcahy headed goalwards only to see his effort cleared.
Sligo’s pressure continued though and on 57 minutes they almost found the breakthrough only for Jack Keaney’s header to be cleared off the line by Shane Elworthy before Kyle McFadden then saw his effort saved by man of the match McGuinness.
The game would be more even from here on in though and Drogheda’s best play came on 66 minutes as Byrne, not long on the pitch, beat several Sligo players, laid the ball off to Meaney who flicked the ball into the path of Mulhall but the Drogheda forward couldn’t keep his effort down.
Drogheda found another opening with eleven minutes to play as Mark Doyle was played through on goal but could only fire his effort into the side netting.
Sligo looked to find a late winner and Vinny Faherty thought he had turned creator for McFadden but the latter was denied by a stunning save by Drogheda shot stopper by McGuinness.
The Bit o’Red would have one further chance to win the game as Benny Ighiehon broke through down the right and looked to find the far corner but yet again McGuinness was equal to it.
Drogheda United: Stephen McGuinness; Shane Elworthy, Kevin Farragher, Dave Mulcahy (C), Stephen Dunne; Adam Wixted (Thomas Byrne 58), Sean Brennan (Jamie Hollywood 90+3), Ryan McEvoy, Mark Doyle; Chris Mulhall, Stephen Meaney (Sean Russell 82).
Subs not used: Dylan Sweeney (gk), Colm Deasy, Lloyd Buckley, Conor Kane.
Booked: Sean Brennan (58), Thomas Byrne (61).
Sligo Rovers: Shaun Patton (Ed McGinty 64); Mick Leahy, Kyle McFadden, Seamus Sharkey, Gary Boylan; Jamie McDonagh (Raffaele Cretaro 69), Jack Keaney, John Russell (C), Rhys McCabe; Greg Moorhouse (Benny Ighiehon 82), Vinny Faherty.
Subs not used: John Mahon, Chris Kenny, Daniel Kearns, Omar Haughton.
Booked: Seamus Sharkey (77).
Referee: Paul McLaughlin.
Attendance: 750 (estimate).
Extratime.ie Player of the Match: Stephen McGuinness (Drogheda United).