Date: 7:45 p.m. April 2, 2010
Venue: United Park
Drogheda were forced to start Ryan Brennan on the wing in place of Brendan McGill who tweaked his back in the warm up. This may have been a blessing in disguise as the teenager, recently called up to the Ireland U-19 squad, was by far Drogheda’s man of the match.
The visitors took the lead after 25 minutes when a horrendous mistake by Drogheda’s Michael Daly allowed Matthew Blinkhorn intercept possession in the Drogheda box and the Sligo striker slipped the ball to Padraig Amond who poked home past a helpless Paul Skinner from four yards out.
Drogheda levelled matters three minutes into injury time in the first half. The home side were awarded a free kick on the right hand side when Joe Kendrick stepped up and swung in a perfectly flighted ball which was met by the head of the unmarked Jamie Duffy who powered to the net.
Drogheda took the lead on 72 minutes as Sligo were attempting to clear. Alan Keane slipped and allowed the ball trickle to Eoghan Osborne who crossed into the box where Michael Daly was racing in at the back post and smashed a header home.
That lead was short lived however as McCabe was brought down by Eric McGill at the second attempt with the midfielder duly carded. McCabe stood up and hit his free round the outside of the wall leaving Skinner rooted to the spot as the ball flew into the back of the net.
The home side opened the game with debutant Brennan almost marking his first start in a Claret and Blue jersey in emphatic style, a Daly cross reaching the back post where Brennan made contact but just couldn’t steer it home.
Both sides were at full tilt, going end-to-end in an effort to get the opener. Drogheda were playing a high defensive line, forcing their opponents into the use of the long ball which they utilised to good effect.
Eoin Doyle’s pace was causing the Drogheda defence a lot of problems and when Jamie Harris was forced off after being inadvertently punched by his goalkeeper Skinner and then being involved in a clash of heads, Joe Kendrick dropped back into the centre of defence with Eoghan Osborne playing on the left.
In-form 'keeper Richard Brush was solid for the visiting side as he held almost everything that was rained down on him.
Just before the break both sides had glorious chances in the space of a minute as Drogheda sloppily gave the ball away and Sligo broke downfield. Brian King failed to intercept a pass to Blinkhorn but made up for it as he cut the striker off on his cut back and then set up a Drogheda move which saw a great Glen Fitzpatrick cross come to nought.
The Boynesiders spurned a great chance right at the start of the second half, Kendrick opted for a pass rather than shoot from inside the Sligo box and this allowed Keane clear the Sligo box.
Blinkhorn looked to have given the visitors the lead once again, and was even just about to celebrate as he hit a dainty chip over Skinner only to see it rebound off the post, much to the Drogheda player’s relief.
A frantic final fifteen minutes ensued but neither side could break the deadlock. The Boynesiders almost snatched a win at the death. First Brennan sent in a cross which was heading straight for Fitzpatrick but Almeida slid back and put the ball behind. From the resulting corner Fitzpatrick flicked on and Paul Crowley struck the ball with his heel and scooped the effort over the crossbar.
Drogheda United now face another home game against Bray Wanderers on Easter Monday in what is already being tipped as a six-pointer. The potential loss of Jamie Harris will be a blow to Mathew’s men. Paul Cook will be happy in the way his side responded to going behind as they next face Dundalk, whose game tonight was postponed.
Drogheda United: Paul Skinner, Joe Kendrick, Alan McNally, Eric McGill, Ryan Brennan, Jamie Duffy, Paul Crowley, Jamie Harris (Eoghan Osborne, 33), Mick Daly, Brian King, Glen Fitzpatrick.
Subs Not Used: Paul Murphy, Damian Brennan, Robbie Martin, Darragh McNamara.
Sligo Rovers: Richard Brush, Danny Ventre, Iarfhlaith Davoren (Derek Foran, 46), Mauro Almeida, Alan Keane, Conor O’Grady (Mark Doninger, 56), John Dillon (Gary McCabe 64), Richie Ryan, Matthew Blinkhorn, Padraig Amond, Eoin Doyle.
Subs Not Used: Dean Marshall, Ciaran Kelly.
extratime Man of the Match: Ryan Brennan.
Referee: Dave McKeon.