The scoreline may have read 0-0 but this match was anything but boring, as Bohemians and Sligo Rovers shared the spoils at Dalymount on Friday night.
Bohs were the better side in the first half, but the league leaders were resurgent in the second half. Jason McGuiness’s sending off late in the half put any hopes Sligo had of getting a win to bed though and in the end Bohs were probably unlucky not to win this thrilling match.
The home side had the best of the play in the opening stages, stringing some lovely passes together in an attempt to work the ball forwards. Karl Moore looked bright for Bohs early on, but his 25-yard shot in the second minute fell wide.
Many expected a depleted Sligo Rovers to dominate, but their first shot on target wasn’t until the 17th minute. Pascal Millien, making his first start for the Bit O’Red, shot straight at Craig Sexton from the left side of the Bohs keeper’s box.
Gradually the league leaders came into the match more, with Millien at the heart of most of their positive moves. After half an hour he dribbled his way towards goal before seeing a powerful shot palmed away by Sexton.
Bohemians were quick to counter though, with a deep cross almost finding the head of Kevin Feely seconds later. Gary Rogers came out to claim it, averting the immediate danger, but it was still the Gypsies who were in control.
Ross Gaynor, playing out of position at left-back, looked shaky – with Bohs targeting his flank on several occasions. For all of Keith Buckley and David Scully’s hard work, though, there just never seemed to be anyone in the box to finish.
Three minutes before the break, Rafael Cretaro was caught in possession near his own box, allowing Karl Moore to slip in behind him. Rogers was again on hand to come out and gather the ball, though. Bohs almost finished the half with a goal- David Mulcahy heading just wide of the Rovers goal within the final minute of the first half.
Mark Quigley and John Dillon played a quick one-two after 51 minutes to put Quigley in a good position unmarked close to goal. The ex-Bohs player scuffed his shot and it ended up wide when it looked like he had the goal at his mercy.
Sligo looked to play a more expansive game in the second half, bringing their wide players into it more. The ever-threatening Millien found Jason McGuiness in front of the Bohs goal ten minutes into the second half after the Haitian international received the ball from a short corner.
The swarming Bohs defence was again effective though and McGuiness’s shot was charged down. The Bit O’Red piled the pressure on, with Gaynor and Cretaro now pushing up effectively from full-back.
Quigley cut the Bohs defence in two with a pass from deep on 68 minutes, but Sexton again did just enough to deny Lee Lynch, who latched onto the pass. Millien was still keen to run at Bohs whenever he could, but just like Bohs in the first half, Rovers just couldn’t seem to finish.
To their credit, the Gypsies defended superbly, with Evan McMillan in absolutely imperious form at centre back. The heavily fancied visitors did themselves no favours when Jason McGuiness was shown a second yellow card for stupidly barging into David Mulcahy.
An already fast-paced game picked up dramatically in the final ten minutes, with the Dalymount crowd roaring Bohs on. Aaron Callaghan, watching from the stands, must have been pleased with his young charges as they pushed the FAI Cup champions hard.
After being second-best for most of the second half, Bohs almost snatched the lead with five minutes left. Dave Mulcahy was found unmarked in the Rovers box, but shot straight at Gary Rogers. The Bohs tide fell on the visitors again and again, but some last-ditch defending just about held the Gypsies.
Mulcahy again headed just wide late in stoppage time from a free-kick, but there was to be no twist in the tale and Sligo Rovers held on for a point they were probably lucky to get in the end.
Bohemians: Craig Sexton; Derek Pender, Evan McMillan [c], Kevin Feely, Roberto Lopes; Keith Buckley (Dinny Corcoran ‘86), Keith Ward (Stephen Traynor ‘56), David Mulcahy, Ryan McEvoy; Karl Moore (Andy Mulligan ‘70); David Scully.
Subs Not Used: Greg Murray, Peter McMahon, Adam Martin, Dan Mahon.
Bookings: E McMillan (19), Mulcahy (33), Scully (38), Buckley (80).
Sligo Rovers: Gary Rogers; Ross Gaynor Gavin Peers, Jason McGuinness [c], Rafael Cretaro; Mark Quigley, David Cawley, Lee Lynch, Pascal Millien (Jake Dykes ‘82); John Dillon (Martin Owens ‘91); Danny North.
Subs Not Used: Richard Brush, Liam Martin, Mark McGoldrick.
Bookings: McGuinness (31), Dykes (88).
Sent Off: McGuinness (79).
Referee: Damien Hancock.
Attendance: 1,400 (official).
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Evan McMillan (Bohemians).
Niall Farrell is our correspondent at Tolka Park, covering the goings-on at Shelbourne. You can visit Niall's website for further information and contact details- niallf.net.