Mark Quigley rescued a point for Dundalk just as it appeared that 10 man Sligo had taken all three here at Oriel Park. The Lilywhites striker earned his side a reprieve when he went down under a clumsy John Russell challenge. Just six minutes earlier Raf Cretaro looked to have won the game for the visitors when he slammed home from the edge of the box on 88.
Dundalk lived dangerously in the opening 15 minutes as they allowed Russell a shot from 20 yards in the first minute which he pulled narrowly wide and then Peter Cherrie decided to try to round Iarfhlaith Davoren instead of clearing to touch and nearly paid the price as the Sligo man blocked his attempt but the rebound fell kindly for the Scottish netminder and he cleared at the 2nd attempt.
Sligo were in the ascendancy and with more accurate crossing they could well have opened the scoring as chances to find colleagues were wasted by Joseph N’Do and Russell.
The home side began to get a foothold on the match and on 18 minutes Mark Griffin was sent into the Sligo box by Stephen Maher but he scuffed his shot and Brendan Clarke was able to drop on the effort. The young Dundalk centre forward had another effort just over the angle on 21 minutes as he turned and ran at the retreating Sligo rearguard.
N’Do tried to curl in a 30 yard free for the visitors but Cherrie was a match for it. Cherrie had to be alert two minutes later as Dillon got room wide right for a cross toward Davoren.
The next real chance fell to Dundalk on 38 as lovely interplay down the right between Quigley and Ward saw the striker advance into the Sligo box but he pulled his shot wide of the far post from 12 yards. Immediately Sligo answered as an N’Do free was cleared to Davoren on the edge of the box but his blockbuster was turned away by Cherrie.
Dundalk should have taken the lead in the third minute of the second half as Danny Kearns backed Danny Ventre up into his own box and then delivered low to the near post where Mark Griffin miscontrolled with the goal at his mercy.
Controversy struck in the 52nd minute when Ventre received his second booking and was sent off. He took a neat ball from John Dillon and advanced toward the edge of the box where after playing the ball past Carl McHugh he went looking for the defenders leg and fell to the pitch. Referee Tom Connolly decided it was all too theatrical despite there being clear contact and sent him off.
Sligo reorganised quickly and as the game wore on looked as though they might steal something with some of their lightening breaks upfield. Matthew Blinkhorn was on the end of one such effort in the 62nd minute and should have done better with a free header from an N’Do delivery. He then flicked on but the header just evaded Eoin Doyle with the goal at his mercy on 69.
The Bit O Red looked to have taken all three points when a cross field ball evaded Carl McHugh's attempted interception to leave Cretaro with a site of goal and his effort beat Cherrie all ends up.
Dundalk drew up one last attempt and a long ball into the Sligo box bounced high as the chasing Quigley managed to get goal side of John Russell, his clumsy attempt to get at the bouncing ball brought down Quigley and he made no mistake from the spot.
Paul Cook will no doubt have words to say about the sending off but he should be delighted that his team played a more than equal part in a great advert for the league.
Dundalk: Peter Cherrie; Simon Madden, Dean Bennett, Carl McHugh, Ross Gaynor; Daniel Kearns, Stephen Maher, Mark Quigley, Greg Bolger, Keith Ward (Johnny Breen 71); Mark Griffin (Jason Byrne 61).
Subs not used: Paul Murphy, Matt Foley.
Bookings: Gaynor (37).
Sligo Rovers: Brendan Clarke; Conor Powell (Aaron Greene 59), Derek Foran, Gavin Peers, Danny Ventre; John Dillon (Matthew Blinkhorn 57), Joseph N’Do, Richie Ryan, John Russell, Iarfhlaith Davoren (Raffaele Cretaro 74); Eoin Doyle.
Subs not used: Ciaran Kelly, Alan Kirby.
Bookings: Ventre (18), Greene (80), Russell (93), Ryan (94).
Sent Off: Ventre (52).
Referee: Tom Connolly.
extratime.ie Man of the Match: John Russell (Sligo Rovers).