A pair of first-half goals couldn’t be added to as Sligo Rovers and Cork City finished with honours even at the Showgrounds tonight.
Graham Cummins’ early goal gave the visitors a dream start but Ronan Coughlan’s leveller for Sligo turned the momentum their way around the half-hour mark.
With both sides having drawn 1-1 with St Patrick’s Athletic in their most recent games, the form lines held true.
While each will feel that they could have won this mid-table tussle, played before an attendance of 1,984, a lack of finishing quality meant that a draw was an outcome that couldn’t really be disputed.
Sligo remain sixth while City move up to seventh but they have three more games played than Waterford, just a point behind them.
City, without a game since the draw with Pat’s a fortnight ago, had four changes since then, with Seán McLoughlin, Conor McCormack Shane Griffin and Karl Sheppard unavailable.
Dan Casey, Garry Comerford, Dáire O’Connor and Cummins came into the team and Cummins had them ahead within six minutes of the start. From a James Tilley corner on the right, a defensive header by Sligo’s Romeo Parkes looped up in the air and Cummins volleyed beyond Ed McGinty.
Sligo, who had played last Saturday, responded positively without creating anything of note. Instead, it was City who looked likelier to add to their tally, using the width of the pitch well against the Sligo midfield diamond. Gearóid Morrissey had a long-range shot which didn’t test McGinty, Cummins was twice off-target and another effort from Morrissey whistled just over the bar.
Slowly, Sligo came more into the game and a low Parkes ball across goal needed any touch but none was forthcoming. However they wouldn’t have long to wait for the equaliser.
When they won a free kick on the right flank on 27 minutes, Sam Warde’s free kick was met at the back post by Daryl Fordyce, his header back giving former City man Ronan Coughlan an easy finish.
Coughlan provided Fordyce with an opportunity immediately after that but his miscued and, then, shortly after the half-hour, Kris Twardek’s 20-yard shot drew a good save from Mark McNulty in the City goal.
Cummins again tested McGinty after Morrissey forced a turnover in midfield, but from thre to half-time Sligo were dominant. Warde had a shot when a corner wasn’t sufficiently cleared, McNulty denying him, while Conor McCarthy had to do well to intercept a nice Ronan Murray touch to which sought to put Parkes in.
Parkes had another effort deflected wide for a corner and then, from a Murray flick, jinked his way into a shooting position only to blaze over the bar from ten yards.
On the resumption, Sligo still had the momentum and more Parkes trickery in the area set up an opportunity for Twardek but he was unable to keep his shot on target.
The hosts continued to press and Coughlan and Murray linked well in the area but again McCarthy was on hand to avert the danger, while John Mahon did have the ball in the net for Sligo but the assistant referee’s flag was up.
Just after the hour, City forged a good move as Garry Buckley found Kevin O’Connor on the left and his cross was perfect for Tilley to meet but again McGinty was able to make a not-too-taxing save.
Another Tilley effort, from closer to halfway than the penalty area, was similarly dealt with and at the other end Rovers sub John Russell twice went close but was unable to ask a question of McNulty.
With 12 minutes left, Cummins went agonisingly close, heading just over from Tilley’s cross and then sub Darragh Rainsford’s header from Colm Horgan’s delivery was just wide.
In the closing stages, there were efforts to find a late winner by both sides, but nothing of sufficient substance, leaving a sense of frustration for both at the end.
SLIGO ROVERS: McGinty; Morahan, Keaney, Mahon, Banks; Warde; Twardek, Fordyce (Russell 67); Coughlan (Kerrigan 83); Parkes, Murray.
CORK CITY: McNulty; Horgan, McCarthy, Casey, Comerford (Hurley 55); Morrissey, K O’Connor; Tilley, Buckley, D O’Connor (Rainsford 75); Cummins.
Referee: P McLaughlin (Monaghan).