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MATCH REPORT: Shamrock Rovers 2-2 Sligo Rovers

A spirited second-half performance see the Hoops claim a point against Sligo Rovers, after falling 2-0 behind in the first-half.

Stephen Bradley made three changes to his side that drew with Dundalk on Monday night, with Alan Mannus, Dylan Watts and Rory Gaffney all returning to the starting line-up. Sligo came to the capital in fine form, unbeaten so far this season and on the back of a 3-1 win against Finn Harps on Monday night.

The home side controlled the early stages of the play, with Gaffney having two chances saved well by Ed McGinty in the Sligo goal inside the first twelve minutes.

The opening goal was scored against the run of play after 18 minutes. Jordan Hamilton did well down the Sligo right-wing, before his cross into the Rovers box was glanced beyond Alan Mannus by Will Fitzgerald to give the visitor's the lead.

And on the half-hour mark, things went from bad to worse for Stephen Bradley's side.

Barry Cotter gave up possession in the Rovers defence when he passed the ball directly to Sligo forward Aidan Keena, who turned beyond Lopes and fired past Mannus, in off his back-post, to double the lead for Liam Buckley's side.

Shamrock Rovers made two substitutions at the interval, with Farrugia and Byrne coming on to ignite the Rovers attack in the aim of salvaging something out of the game. And after 62 minutes, we were awarded a life-line.

Andy Lyons weaved through the Sligo midfield, before Adam McDonnell fouled the right-wing back inside the Sligo penalty area and Derek Tomney pointed straight to the penalty spot.

Rovers top scorer this season, Graham Burke, stepped up to calmly send Ed McGinty the wrong way in the Sligo goal to half the deficit for The Hoops.

It was all Rovers for the remaining 25 minutes, with the tension rising on the pitch, with referee Tomney awarding seven yellow-cards in the second-half.

With nine minutes to go, a Jack Byrne corner found the head of Roberto Lopes at the near post, but Ed McGinty produced a stunning finger-tip save to tip the effort over his crossbar.

And from the following set-piece, the score-line was level.

Byrne's corner kick was headed goal-wards by Sean Hoare, before Adam McDonnell's attempted clearance sliced the ball beyond McGinty to send the Tallaght stadium crowd wild.

Substitute Richie Towell came close to winning it for the Hoops with six minute remaining. After two clever keepy-ups to get past the Sligo defence, it was McGinty who came to the Sligo rescue with a smart-low save to deny the former Salford man.

With Rovers piling on the pressure, Liam Buckley's men cleverly saw out the game to pick up a point on the road, although I'm sure they'll be disappointed not to return to the north-west with all three points.

Shamrock Rovers fans will be pulling their hair out as to how we only scored twice this evening, but Ed McGinty was on fine form for the away side - proving why the regular transfer rumour of McGinty to Tallaght is certainly upon the cards.

Both sides aren't in action for two weeks, due to the upcoming international break. When they return, on Friday April 1st, Shamrock Rovers travel to Ballybofey to take on Finn Harps, while Sligo welcome Damien Duff's Shelbourne on the Saturday, April 2nd.

Shamrock Rovers: 1. Mannus; 3. Hoare, 4. Lopes (C), 5. Grace; 22. Lyons, 7. Watts (17. Towell), 16. O'Neill (29. Byrne), 6. Cotter (23. Farrugia); 10. Burke, 20. Gaffney (38. Emakhu), 14, Mandroiu (9. Greene).

Sligo Rovers: 1. McGinty; 2. Banks, 26. Buckley, 28. Pijnaker, 19. Kirk; 14. O'Sullivan (3. Horgan), 8. Morahan (12. Byrne), 17, McDonnell, 7. Fitzgerald (4. Blaney); 9. Keena (27. Mata), 10. Hamilton (22. Cawley).

*Photo credit: Shamrock Rovers Football Club*

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