By Robert O’Reilly
Drogheda United picked up a hard earned point on the road as they drew 1-1 with Sligo Rovers at the Showgrounds.
New signing Sean Russell had given the Drogs the lead with a thunderous volley though their lead was short lived as Rhys McCabe levelled with both sides having to make do with a point.
Drogheda manager Pete Mahon made four changes from the side that lost 2-0 to Finn Harps last week with Colm Deasy, Adam Wixted, Russell and Stephen Elliott all starting.
Sligo, who came into the game three points and two place above Drogheda in the table, created the first opening as Benny Igiehon’s turn and drive brought a smart save out of Stephen McGuinness.
Despite having started slowly, Drogheda had two shots on goal inside the opening 20 minutes as Wixted first tested the palms of Michéal Schlingermann before Thomas Byrne fired over from distance.
The Bit O’Red were unfortunate not to take the lead on 35 minutes when Igiehon teed-up Daniel Kearns who hit the bar from close range.
Having been outplayed for periods of the first-half, Drogheda were much improved after the break as they forced a succession of early corners in search of the opener.
The breakthrough came in stunning fashion as Adebayo-Rowling’s weak header was seized upon by debutant Russell who produced a stunning half-volley from 30-yards that nestled into the far top corner.
Drogheda’s lead was to only last 12 minutes with Sligo taking advantage of a stretched United defence with McCabe cutting inside from the left before slotting low beyond McGuinness.
The Boynesiders nearly produced an instant response with the ball being cut back for Ryan McEvoy though his low shot was beaten away by the legs of Schlingermann.
It appeared as though Sligo had retaken the lead with ten minutes to play as Kearns crossed for substitute Jonah Ayunga to tap home only for the assistant referee to declare that the ball had gone out of play.
Both sides had chances to win the game late on with a superb last-ditch tackle from Michael Leahy denying substitute Jamie Hollywood who had found himself free in the penalty area.
A much improved performance from Drogheda who will be looking to build on this result next week when they travel to face Galway United in another crucial clash at the bottom.
Sligo Rovers: Michéal Schlingermann; Tobi Adebayo-Rowling, Michael Leahy, Seamus Sharkey, Regan Donelon; Daniel Kearns, John Russell, Gary Boylan (Jonah Ayunga 79’), Rhys McCabe; Raffaele Cretaro, Benny Igiehon
Subs: Craig Roddan, Chris Kenny, Shaun Patton, Gary Armstrong, John Mahon, Mikey Place
Drogheda United: Stephen McGuinness; Colm Deasy, Lloyd Buckley, Luke Galagher, Conor Kane; Ryan McEvoy, Jake Hyland, Sean Russell (Sean Brennan 70’) (Stephen Meaney 90’); Adam Wixted, Stephen Elliott, Thomas Byrne
Subs: Ryan Coulter, Stephen Dunne, Eoghan Dempsey, Shane Elworthy
DroghedaUnited.ie Man of the Match: Stephen McGuinness