Rovers open up nine point lead

Sligo Rovers’ bid for a first league title in 35 years took a step closer to becoming a reality on Friday last in Inchicore when they recorded a hard fought 0-0 draw with fellow title challengers St Patrick’s Athletic.

Sligo Rovers’ bid for a first league title in 35 years took a step closer to becoming a reality on Friday last in Inchicore when they recorded a hard fought 0-0 draw with fellow title challengers St Patrick’s Athletic.

In front of an estimated 800 travelling supporters, Rovers soaked up plenty of pressure from the home side in the opening half and could have travelled home with all three points had St Pats’ goalkeeper Barry Murphy not made a superb save to keep out Danny Ventre’s header after an excellent cross from substitute Lee Lynch in the closing stages.

The result is much more beneficial to Rovers than to St Pat’s as the Bit O’Red are now nine points clear of second place Drogheda United and are 11 points clear of both St Patrick’s and Shamrock Rovers although both Dublin clubs have a game in hand.

With just eight games of the Airtricity Premier Division remaining for Sligo Rovers, five of which are at home, the dream of a first league title since 1977 is getting ever closer to becoming a reality.

As was the case a few weeks ago when Sligo Rovers visited Shamrock Rovers, the Bit O’Red came under intense pressure from opponents who knew a point was of limited value as they attempted to get back in the title race. But the central defensive partnership of Gavin Peers and Jason McGuinness proved to be rock solid while Joseph Ndo, despite being the oldest on the pitch by some distance, gave a performance that illustrated the talent that saw him represent Cameroon on over 20 occasions and being selected for two world cups.

Gavin Peers saw a header from six yards met grateful by the Murphy and as the game progressed the visitors grew in confidence.

With a little under 20 minutes remaining St Pat’s could have broken the deadlock with Christy Fagan spurning a glorious chance as he shot wide when he had only Gary Rogers to beat and three minutes later the same player headed Ian Bermingham’s cross wide.

Having thrown everything at Sligo Rovers, St Pat’s were almost dealt a sucker punch at the death but Murphy made an excellent save to deny Ventre.

Next up for the Bit O’Red is a home match with Bohemians on Monday next, September 3 and Leitrim Observer readers can avail of a special discount by cutting out the coupon in this week’s paper and bringing it to the game on Monday night.