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Saturday 10 December 2016

Saints saved by Fagan yet again

St Pat's 1 - Sligo Rovers 1

St Patrick’s Athletic’s Christy Fagan (l) celebrates after scoring his side’s first goal with teammates Ian Bermingham, Mark Timlin and Graham Kelly during their SSE Airtricity League Premier Division match against Sligo Rovers at Richmond Park last night. Photo: David Maher/Sportsfile
St Patrick’s Athletic’s Christy Fagan (l) celebrates after scoring his side’s first goal with teammates Ian Bermingham, Mark Timlin and Graham Kelly during their SSE Airtricity League Premier Division match against Sligo Rovers at Richmond Park last night. Photo: David Maher/Sportsfile

Home advantage is proving to be anything but an advantage for St Patrick's Athletic this season as the Saints had yet another night to forget in Inchicore.

Their away record is spotless - two games, two wins, two clean sheets - but long-suffering Saints fans who now make their travel plans for Monday's rearranged game in Donegal against Finn Harps must wonder if it would be better for their side to stay away from Dublin 8 and play as many games on the road as possible, Pats with a return of just one win from four home games this term.

They had to come from behind and be rescued by top scorer Chris Fagan for this 1-1 draw against Sligo Rovers in front of a small crowd at Richmond Park, an attendance of just 1,061 for the only top-flight game in Dublin, which will again spark questions about the value of live TV coverage when clubs' gate receipts are clearly affected.

This was no smash and grab raid from a Sligo side who have struggled to find their feet with a new-look side in 2016, as they deserved their first-half lead and also deserved at least a draw to get the point which lifts them off the bottom, with Kieran Sadlier very impressive.

There were signs from early on that things were just not right in the home camp. Sligo defender Mick Leahy had a pop at goal on 12 minutes and on 16 minutes a terrible back pass from Saints striker Fagan gifted an opportunity to Jaanai Gordon but the big forward, on loan from West Ham, was so shocked with the unexpected chance that he gave Brendan Clarke enough time to make a save, Keith Treacy coming back to clear the danger.

Pats struggled to find a response, Billy Dennehy at least testing Micheál Schlingermann on 26 minutes with a shot, but apart from that, the Sligo keeper had a quiet first 45 minutes.

Clarke saved again to deny Gordon on 32 minutes but three minutes before the break Rovers went in front. A free from former Ireland U21 cap Sadlier was saved by Clarke but defender Gary Boylan was first to react and tapped home the rebound, a first goal for the club from the Mayo native. There was a bit of a response from the home side after the break, Fagan and Darren Dennehy with efforts, but Pat's suffered a blow early in the half when defender Ger O'Brien was forced to leave the action. The Saints defence was still leaky and they needed a double save from Clarke to deny the impressive Jimmy Keohane on 55 minutes.

On 65 minutes, the Saints were level at last, Fagan heading home from an Ian Bermingham cross to claim his fifth goal of the season, with another header. The goal sparked some life, and confidence, into them and Sligo had to dig deep for the last 25 minutes, this a big test for a very young Rovers side, but Sligo also had a say in the game and Pats needed Darren Dennehy to deny Jordan Richards on 78 minutes.

Sligo will be very pleased to move off the bottom but a sixth-placed Pats side clearly need better.

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