Limerick FC and Sligo Rovers played out a scoreless draw at the Markets Field on Saturday evening as the gap between the two teams remains at six points. The first-half was a poor affair but the second-half was full of chances as both sides looked for a crucial win at this point of the season.
In a slow opening, a goalmouth scramble was forced by Limerick following a Lee-J Lynch free-kick, but Sligo managed to clear eventually. As has been seen in recent games, Limerick were intent on playing diagonal balls towards Chiedozie Ogbene, and the winger was challenging effectively in the early moments.
The first big chance of the game fell to the visitors. Dean Clarke was making his first appearance as a right-back in a 4-4-2 formation. His inexperience showed as his attempted interception was missed which allowed Daniel Kearns through on goal, but the Sligo winger hit the side netting with his subsequent effort.
Midway through the first-half, Sligo veteran Rafael Cretaro went extremely close to giving Sligo the lead as his rasping shot skimmed the crossbar. Worryingly for Limerick, the visitors were creating all their openings from their left-hand side of the pitch.
With ten minutes of the first half remaining, Limerick managed to create their first dangerous attack of the game. Sligo failed to clear a Henry Cameron corner and a snapshot from Chiedozie Ogbene was cleared.
Limerick’s first clear chance of the game arrived on the stroke of half-time as Rodrigo Tosi’s curling effort was brilliantly saved by Michael Sclingermann.
The introduction of Stephen Kenny and John O’Flynn certainly improved Limerick’s display and it was the latter who set up league debutant Henry Cameron, but the winger’s shot went agonisingly wide of the post.
Immediately after, the Bit O’Red almost took the lead. Benny Igiehon converted a rebound from a Rafael Cretaro strike, but the striker was adjudged to have been in an offside position.
Limerick substitute Stephen Kenny was extremely lively. The winger’s free-kick almost gave the Shannonsiders the lead but Michael Schlingermann’s blushes were saved by the post as he watched the ball sail over his head.
Chiedozie Ogbene’s performance improved as he was moved to partner Rodrigo Tosi as a striker. The former Cork City man unleashed a shot from distance which failed to trouble Schlingermann.
With one minute of normal time remaining, Sligo’s most experienced player Rafael Cretaro was sent off for a cynical foul on Chiedozie Ogbene. Limerick pressed extremely hard for a winning goal and captain Shane Duggan’s late strike was saved by Michael Schlingermann who had a superb game for Gerard Lyttle’e men.
Unfortunately, the winning goal never arrived for Neil McDonald’s men and the visitors will certainly be the happier squad with the draw.
Limerick FC: Brendan Clarke, Dean Clarke, Joe Crowe, Tony Whitehead, Dave O’Connor, Henry Cameron (Bastien Hery 77) Shane Duggan, Lee-J Lynch, Garbhan Coughlan (John O’Flynn 54), Chiedozie Ogbene, Rodrigo Tosi (Stephen Kenny 54).
Subs not used: Freddy Hall, Robbie Williams, Paul O’Conor, Killian Brouder.
Sligo Rovers: Michael Sclingermann, Tobi Adebayo-Rowling, Mick Leahy, Seamus Sharkey, Regan Donelan, Gary Boylan, Rhys McCabe, John Russell (Jonah Ayunga 76), Rafael Cretaro, Daniel Kearns (Craig Roddan 89), Benny Igiehon (Michael Place 90).
Subs not used: Shaun Patton, Kyle Callan-McFadden, Gary Armstrong, Jack Keaney.
Yellow Cards: Tobi Adebayo- Rowling (33), Regan Donelan (51), Benny Igiehon (58), Mick Leahy (79).
Red Cards: Rafael Cretaro (89 mins).
Referee: Paul McLaughlin
Sporting Limerick Man of the Match: Stephen Kenny