The champions were uncharacteristically sloppy in the early exchanges with a number of misplaced passes allowing St Patrick’s to seize the momentum through a series of set plays.
Despite not gaining tangible reward from those initial attempts, the hosts eventually took the lead in the 21st minute when Killian Brennan’s inswinging corner was diverted towards goal by Kenny Browne, with Conan Byrne on hand to fire home from close range.
The half continued in a similar vein with the Saints looking to double their advantage. Christopher Forrester almost managed that feat when dragging his shot wide after clever interplay with Anthony Flood in the 41st minute.
There was a greater degree of attacking intent from the visitors upon the restart, with full-back Alan Keane far more prominent, but the precision that had been a feature of their prefect league campaign to date was eluding Rovers.
The hosts seemed content to absorb this pressure and hit on the counter-attack, with Brennan forcing Gary Rogers into a save with a well-struck free-kick from 30 yards in the 58th minute.
Decent chances ensued for both the impressive Ian Bermingham and Bolger, with Jeff Henderson blocking the latter’s low strike in the 70th minute as the hosts drove forward incessantly.
After Iarfhlaith Davoren was dismissed for Sligo in the 86th minute, the Saints were finally rewarded for their pressure three minutes later as Brennan delightfully chipped home from the penalty spot after Evan McMillan had bundled over Byrne inside the area, breathing fresh life into the title race in the process.
ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC: Ryan; O’Brien, Browne, Kenna, Bermingham; Byrne, Bolger, Russell, Brennan, Forrester; Flood (Fagan 77).
SLIGO ROVERS: Rogers; Keane (Peers 68), McMillan, Henderson, Gaynor; Djilali (Millien 57), Ventre, Cawley, Lynch, Connolly (Davoren 75), Elding.
Referee: N Doyle (Dublin).