All square between Super Blues and Bit O Red

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Limerick FC 0-0 Sligo Rovers

A COMPOSED, disciplined performance helped Limerick FC to hold champions Sligo Rovers to a scoreless draw at Thomond Park on Friday night in a game that attracted the RTE cameras for live coverage.

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A string of excellent saves from Barry Ryan frustrated the visitors, although Limerick’s work rate was deserving of a point and it could have been even better for Stuart Taylor’s side if Axel Bossekota did not have a first half goal chalked off for handball.

Sligo were imposing their quality in the opening minutes, creating a couple of half-chances for prolific striker Anthony Elding and coming very close when Gavin Peers’ downward header from a corner drew an excellent save from Ryan.

There was a slightly hairy moment for the Limerick defence on 20 minutes when Aaron Greene’s cross from the left came to Stephen Folan, who couldn’t get it clear but the outstanding Patrick Nzuzi was on hand to avert any possible danger.

Elding then blazed a shot wide on what proved to a rare off-night for the Sligo marksman before Limerick had the ball in the Sligo net midway through the first half.

Bossekota controlled the ball and, one-on-one with Gary Rogers, he finished with aplomb, but referee Anthony Buttimer disallowed the goal for handball in the build-up and the Belgian striker was then booked for protesting the decision, which appeared quite harsh.

Had the goal been given, it would have been against the run of play, although the disappointment spurred Limerick on and they grew in confidence towards the end of the first half.

Rogers had to be on guard to get a fingertip to a 33rd-minute Dave O’Leary free kick as the Super Blues enjoyed a spell of prolonged possession in the Sligo half, although it was Elding who had a sight of goal just before half-time. Fortunately for Limerick, he scuffed his shot and it was goalless at the break.

The second half had a very lively resumption, with Ryan making an impressive one-on-one save from Elding within ten seconds of the restart. It set the pattern for the following 20 minutes as Sligo were in control of the early second half exchanges.

Rafaelle Cretaro had a 53rd-minute shot from outside the area blocked by Brian O’Callaghan, who gave a fine performance on the night, and there was a let-off for Limerick just before the hour when Elding glanced a header towards Jeff Henderson, who would have scored if he got any contact on the ball but it drifted wide of Ryan’s right-hand post.

Some sloppy play by Limerick near their own penalty area let in Elding on 66 minutes, but the offside flag went up straight away to add to the Sligo striker’s frustration.

At the other end, Danny Galbraith curled in a shot with 15 minutes to go that sailed not far wide, while a dangerous Rory Gaffney cross evaded Rogers and ultimately came to no fruition.

Limerick carved out one last opening in stoppage time as Gaffney jinked his way into the penalty box before slipping the ball to Galbraith, whose shot was stopped by Rogers.

There were no goals at a sun-blessed Thomond Park but it was an entertaining 90 minutes of football and the home fans could head home with plenty of satisfaction to derive from Limerick’s performance.

Their next three games are all in Dublin, with an FAI Cup match against Glenville being followed by Premier Division trips to new league leaders St Patrick’s Athletic and Shamrock Rovers, so it will be June 29 before the Super Blues again grace Thomond Park when they take on Dundalk.

Limerick FC: Ryan, Kelly, O’Callaghan, Folan, Nzuzi, Galbraith, Gamble, Bradley, Tracy, O’Leary (Rainsford 87), Bossekota (Gaffney 61)

Sligo Rovers: Rogers, Keane, Peers, Henderson, Gaynor, Cawley (Ventre 83), Ndo, Lynch (Djilali 72), Cretaro (Martin 90), Elding, Greene

Attendance: 1,862

Referee: Anthony Buttimer