| 15.8°C Dublin

Cooke recipe sickens Pats

WITH the meanest defence in the league, a string of clean sheets and an Italian keeper, it's a set-up that Giovanni Trapattoni would approve of.

And Mick Cooke's formula for Drogheda United is certainly making an impact this season as the Co Louth club remain very much in touch with the title chasers thanks to last night's 0-0 draw with St Patrick's Athletic.

It was a frustrating night for the Inchicore side, who have now drawn four of their last five games.

Unfancied at the start of the season, Drogheda find themselves just three points behind league leaders Sligo Rovers -- and the platform for that success is a mean defence, which has now kept four clean sheets in five games.

Goals may be hard to come by at times as Drogheda barely came close to winning this tie, bar an 85th-minute shot from Tiaran Mulvenna which came off the post. But the side are very hard to beat, as Pats found to their cost last night.

"That's three clean sheets in a row now and it's great to be in the position we're in," said United boss Cooke.

"The table looks good for us but I still feel it will be the two Rovers (Sligo and champions Shamrock) chasing for the league and Pats and Derry (City) behind them, but it's nice to get points on board.

"We're hard to beat, we have a very solid back five and that is the basis of any success; if you can get a solid back unit you have a chance.

"We kept a clean sheet last night and almost won the game, but that late effort came off one of their players and off the post and rolled across the line.

"It would have been an injustice if we'd won the game as Pats were the better side in the second half but we'll take the point.

"I set out my system to nullify Pats last night. We changed our way of playing to combat their midfield and at the start of the second half we were too deep in our own half.

The Saints came into the game on the back of a free-scoring run, eight goals scored in their previous three games, and the visitors came close on a few occasions in the opening period, the away fans excited by a Christopher Forrester move on 13 minutes and, soon after, James Chambers saw his header go just over the bar.

On 28 minutes, another superb passing move from the Saints handed a clear opportunity to Chris Fagan, but the striker failed to even hit the target, let alone test Drogheda keeper Gabriel Sava. There was a similar pattern after the break as Pats tried to use their passing game to break through a tight United defence.

Once again Forrester was the main danger for Pats, but the Saints didn't come up with much in the way of clear-cut chances.

"It was a disappointing night," admitted Pats boss Liam Buckley (pictured). "We've had a lot of draws and we need to start turning those draws into wins."