City draw a blank but go level at top

DESPITE drawing a blank at the Showgrounds, Cork City moved level on points with Dundalk at the top of the table after what proved to be an exciting scoreless draw with Sligo Rovers last night.

The visitors had goalkeeper Mark McNulty to thank for keeping them in the game as the home side created some good chances throughout.

But John Caulfield's side could have won it in the closing minutes, as Rovers keeper Gary Rogers managed to pull off an excellent save to deny Dave O'Leary while Garry Buckley hit the crossbar with a late header.

Cork centre-back Dan Murray was relieved to see Aaron Greene overshoot the ball after his back-pass sold McNulty short on 23 minutes, but the visitors created their first decent opening shortly after as Brian Lenihan picked out Cillian Morrison in the box, but the former UCD striker saw his effort deflected out for a corner.

Rovers keeper Rogers had to make three good saves before the break - denying Morrison, Colin Healy and Garry Buckley, with the latter's close-range opportunity on the stroke of half-time probably the best chance for either side in the opening period.

But the home side were rejuvenated after the break, with Greene pushed up front alongside North, who was denied twice by excellent McNulty saves inside the opening two minutes.

First the striker took the ball down inside the area and skipped past a defender before McNulty intervened.

Then North's superb free-kick looked destined for the top corner before McNulty flicked it onto the crossbar.

Rovers handed a first-team debut to youngster Ruairi Keating - back from a successful loan spell at Finn Harps - in the closing minutes, but had to survive the late Cork onslaught to maintain new manager John Coleman's unbeaten start.