Tuesday 24 October 2017

Midfielder's leg break takes the gloss off result

A HARD-EARNED point in The Showgrounds on Monday night wasn't enough to return Drogheda United to the Premier Division summit, but of more concern was the serious injury suffered by Austin McCann.

Only 17 minutes after coming on as a second-half substitute for his home-town club, the midfielder shipped a heavy challenge from Sligo's Jeff Henderson and had to be stretchered off, and it was to Drogheda's credit that they held their concentration in the latter stages to keep their unbeaten start to the season intact.

Michael Daly returned to the starting line-up ar right-back after a two-match absence with a calf strain, indirectly replacing Daire Doyle in the only change from the side that beat Athlone on Friday night, but Drogheda made a disastrous start as they went a goal down after only 42 seconds.

Aaron Greene's inviting low cross was met at the far post by right-back Alan Keane who tapped home from close range. Former Drog Paul O'Conor could have doubled Sligo's lead soon after when he just failed to reach a ball in from Sean Maguire at full stretch, and in the 10th minute Maguire - on loan from West Ham United - was the provider again when he set up John Russell whose first-time shot failed to trouble Dave Ryan.

If home supporters were anticipating that their disastrous run of four straight defeats was about to come to an end, they were mistaken as Drogheda fashioned an equaliser against the run of play as the game ticked into the second quarter.

A swift counter-attack saw Carl Walshe send Declan O'Brien through on goal to find the back of the net with an angled shot beyond the reach of his former teammate Gary Rogers - his seventh goal from only four league starts.

The remainder of the first half was fairly uneventful, but Drogheda were forced back on the restart as their attacks became increasingly rare.

Rovers had two decent chances early in the half, first when Evan McMillan got on the end of a corner and saw a header blocked on the line by Alan McNally, and then when Maguire fired over the bar.

Greene caused some concern for Ryan with an in-swinging free kick from the right which the goalkeeper had to divert round the post, and Drogheda had a lucky escape when Ardee man Ross Gaynor's cross was met by John Russell who struck the crossbar from close range.

On 83 minutes McCann was left in agony following a late tackle by Henderson and could play no further part. The Sligo man was perhaps fortunate to escape wtih a yellow card.

There was one more scare for Drogheda in the dying moments when Eric Odhiambo had the ball in the net, but referee Padraigh Sutton disallowed the goal for an earlier foul and the pressure on Sligo manager Ian Baraclough must be mounting after this result.

Drogheda Independent