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Sligo stalemate is setback for Saints

SLIGO ROVERS have failed to score against St Patrick's Athletic in three league games this season, but they did manage to come away with a share of the spoils last night, despite drawing a blank against the title challengers at Richmond Park.

Rovers have impressed many with their free-flowing football but when it comes to facing St Pat's, Paul Cook's side clam up in front of goal. By the time this tense struggle had ended, Rovers had failed to score again.

Much of the attention before the game was on Sligo striker Padraig Amond, the league's leading scorer with 23 goals in all competitions.

Portuguese side Pacos Ferreira had put in a bid for the Carlow native during the week but this was rejected by the Rovers management.

After scoring a double against his former club Shamrock Rovers in the EA Sports Cup semi-finals in midweek, Amond came into the game in top form but the Saints ensured he did not have a chance to shine.

Sligo made three changes from their starting team from that win over the Hoops. Joseph Ndo returned from a calf injury to face his former club, while Jim Lauchlan replaced Derek Foran at centre-back, but the biggest change was the replacement of John Gibson in goal with Ciaran Kelly.

The Saints made three changes, with Ian Bermingham, Ryan Guy and Stuart Byrne coming in for Damien Lynch, Gareth O'Connor and Vinny Faherty.

The home side suffered a blow in the 20th minute when the league's player of the month for July, Dave Mulcahy, limped off after pulling up.

Rovers had far more of the possession in the opening half. McCabe fired in a dangerous cross from the right four minutes before the break but Doyle failed to connect at the back post.

The Saints were livelier after the break and started to put Kelly's goal under pressure. Eight minutes into the second half the Sligo keeper had to be brave to dive at the feet of Dave McAllister after the midfielder thought he could intercept an underhit Jim Lauchlan back-pass.

Kelly had to make his first save of note in the 58th minute when he did well to deny Bermingham after the defender connected with a clever chipped pass by O'Connor.

Four minutes later a right-wing delivery by Guy was nodded down by Derek Doyle and McAllister's snap shot from eight yards out was deflected over the bar. McAllister looked to have broken the deadlock in the 66th minute when his long-range effort sailed over Kelly's head but luckily for the visitors it struck an upright and bounced clear.

That was as close as the game came to a winner.