Finn Harps off the bottom after draw with Shels

Stephan Negru scored on his league debut as Shelbourne came from behind to draw with Finn Harps in a contest that really only came to life in the second half at Finn Park
Finn Harps off the bottom after draw with Shels

EQUALISER: Shelbourne's Stephen Negril celebrates scoring a goal with John Ross Wilson and Matty Smith. Pic: INPHO/Evan Logan

Finn Harps 1 (Tourish 53)  Shelbourne 1 (Negru 57)

Stephan Negru scored on his league debut as Shelbourne came from behind to draw with Finn Harps in a contest that really only came to life in the second half at Finn Park.

FAI Cup semi-finalists Shels have now gone seven games without a win in the Premier Division and remain seventh.

For relegation-threatened Harps, this point was enough to lift them above UCD at the foot of the table, albeit on goal difference.

Shels had the better of the opening exchanges, knocking the ball about well and at pace, but apart from a Matty Smith shot over the target there was little in the way of goalmouth action.

Harps were dealt a massive blow on 13 minutes when striker Eric McWoods - who has been one of their best performers in recent weeks- had to go off injured, and was replaced by Croatian Filip Mihaljevic.

And Shels then lost promising youngster Gavin Hodgins after a knock in the 29th minute, with the experienced Dan Carr taking his place.

But with both defences untroubled, it was clear that something special would be required to break the deadlock.

Shels' best chance of the first half came on 40 minutes when Shane Farrell fed the ball through into the path of Carr but Gary Boylan did well to make a vital tackle near the post at the expense of a corner that came to nothing.

Shels had a scare on 51 minutes when Regan Donelon outfoxed Aodh Dervin inside the box and sent in a cross that was skewed over the bar by Luke Byrne.

From the resulting corner Harps went ahead with Barry McNamee whipping the ball in from the left and Conor Tourish getting the vital touch with a close range header.

But the lead was short-lived as Shels struck back within five minutes as Negru rose to connect with a corner and head past James McKeown.

Carr had a shot saved by McKeown shortly afterwards as the game began to really open up with the two teams searching for a winner.

Brendan Clarke made a superb save on 75 minutes to push over a header from Harps substitute Rob Jones while at the other end substitute Sean Boyd was nearly in twice to score against his former club.

In the end, a draw was a fair outcome.

Finn Harps: McKeown; Tourish (Carrillo, 77 mins), McGing, Slevin, Donelon; Boyle, Boylan, Connolly; Siaj, (Jones 73 mins), McWoods (Mihaljevic, 13 mins), McNamee.

Shelbourne: Clarke; Negru, Clarke, Griffin (Ledwidge, 63 mins); Wilson, Dervin (Lunney, 63 mins), Molloy, Farrell; Giurgi (Boyd, 76 mins), Smith, Hodgins (Carr, 29 mins). 

Referee: A. Reale (Kildare).

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