Galway United retained their unbeaten record but could not profit from 25 minutes with an extra man as Sligo Roves ground out a deserved point from a poor encounter at Terryland Park. Daniel Ventre's 65th minute red card saw Galway switch to a more orthodox 4-4-2 formation in search of the winning goal that would keep them on top of the table, but failed to breach the Bit O'Red's rearguard in the closing stages.
With Jay O'Shea in action elsewhere, Ian Foster was forced into one change, drafting in Shane Fitzgerald in his place, while Dave Cooke took his place on the subs' bench. Paul Cook brought Richie Ryan back into the visitor's team and Sean Doherty also made a welcome return from injury.
While Sligo enjoyed some early possession with the wind at their backs, it was Galway who first threatened with a crisp passing move on seven minutes. Cian McBrien's delicate through ball set Fitzgerald in behind Shaun Holmes and his deft cross was bound for a goalscoring touch by Vinny Faherty before Gavin Peers intervened at the expense of a corner.
The next sight of goal came in the 18th minute when Michael McGrath tried his luck from 20 yards. A left foot shot that looked straightforward caused problems for Richard Brush as he moved to his left but had to make a late adjustment towards the centre of goal and a strong hand pushed the ball up and over the bar.
Rovers were struggling to create anything to trouble Barry Ryan at the other end; a Brian Cash cross on 22 was made to look routine by the former Pat's keeper while Shane Guthrie powered a header clear from Doherty's earlier corner.
A clever corner routine on 28, though, nearly unlocked the United defence. Doherty and Morrison worked the ball into the area via a neat one-two. Doherty advanced into the area but his cross to the far post couldn't be converted. With Sligo now getting the upperhand and increasingly using Cash on the right flank, they again forced a corner and Alan Keane went close to marking his return with a goal. Galway fans were relieved to see the goalbound effort blocked.
Derek O'Brien then went close following a darting run down the left wing, but it was to be the last memorable moment of the half. Conditions were certainly having an affect, but a bright enough opening spell quickly gave way to scrappiness and tedium.
Foster was forced in to an earlhy change in the second period when Fitzgerald picked up an ankle injury and Iarfhlaith Davoren was pushed forward with Paul Sinnott slotting in at left back.
Galway then wasted their first decent attacking free kick opportunity when McGrath tamely failed to beat the first defender on 59 minutes. Sligo were beginning to work some neat passing interchanges going forward but Garry Breen was always well positioned to cut out any danger before it escalated into a meaningful chance.
Ventre's dismissal followed on 65 when Faherty beat Brush to the ball outside the area and a clumsy challenge sent the striker tumbling. Alan Kelly wasted no time reaching for the red card in his back pocket.
But with the onus now on them to attack with abandon, the Tribesmen struggled to lift their game and, indeed, it was Sligo who could have snatched an unlikely goal when Steve Feeney headed narrowly wide from their fifth corner of the night.
Long range efforts were as close as the home side came, with Cian McBrien and Dave Cooke hammering in shots from distance. Brush watched McBrien's shot scorch wide with trepidation before saving well from Cooke.
Alan Kelly evened up the numbers as injury time began, sending off substitute Declan Edwards for two yellow card offences within a two minute spell; the first of these looked especially harsh. Breen flashed a shot over the bar in stoppage time but it was a game that always looked destined to end in stalemate.
Galway United: Barry Ryan; Seamus Conneely (Declan Edwards 71), Garry Breen, Shane Guthrie, Iarfhlaith Davoren; Shane Fitzgerald (Paul Sinnott 54), Cian McBrien, Sean Kelly, Michael McGrath (Dave Cooke 75), Derek O'Brien; Vinny Faherty.
Subs not used: Ger Hanley (gk), Alan Murphy.
Sligo Rovers: Richard Brush; Alan Keane, Gavin Peers, Daniel Ventre, Shaun Holmes; Owen Morrison (Eoin Torpey 86), Conor O'Grady, Richie Ryan, Sean Doherty (Steve Feeney 65), Brian Cash; Stephen Parkhouse (Paul McTiernan 65).
Subs not used: Ciaran Kelly (gk), Jason Noctor.
Referee: Alan Kelly.
Extratime Man of the Match: Garry Breen (Galway United).