Barry McNamee was on target for Finn Harps PICTURE: STEPHEN DOHERTY
It’s full time at Tolka Park in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division, where it finished:
Finn Harps 1
Finn Harps picked up a point away to ten-man Shelbourne on Saturday evening, but just like last week they may well have collected all three.
With just six games to go, Finn Harps remain in second bottom spot on eight points (the relegation/promotion play-off position), just a point ahead of Cork City, and four adrift of St. Patrick’s Athletic, Shelbourne and Derry City who are all on 13 points.
Shels fielded the same starting eleven as the side that was unlucky to lose 3-2 away to Dundalk last time out.
Harps made two changes from the side that drew 0-0 with Derry as Kosovar Sadiki back from suspension with Sam Todd dropping down to the bench while Leo Donnellan started in midfield rather than Ruairi Harkin.
The home side started on the front foot, taking the game to Harps and could have taken an early lead as Ryan Brennan - who scored the winner in the 1-0 win for Shels in Ballybofey last month - crossed for Dayle Rooney but he was unable to hit the ball cleanly and Mark Anthony McGinley was on hand to intervene.
Harps first chance of note fell to young Austrian striker Alexander Kogler but he fired wide of the target on 14 minutes.
McGinley was forced into action again on 24 minutes to stop a shot from Denzil Fernandes and having recovered from a knock the Harps netminder then had to parry a probing ball into the box from Georgie Poynton who was impressing for the home side.
From the resulting 34th minute corner, taken by Poynton, Ciaran Kilduff rose to head home with a strong header to give the home side the lead.
While Dave Webster had a header on goal just before the break, Shels were good value for their interval lead, leaving Harps with plenty to ponder about during the interval.
Horgan brought on veteran Raffaele Cretaro for Ryan Connolly at the start of the second half and within three minutes Harps almost equalised as recent signing Stephen Folan smacked a long range free that McCabe touched onto the crossbar.
And on 53 minutes the Donegal side drew level with Barry McNamee pouncing to stab the ball home from close range after Shels goalkeeper Colin McCabe was unable to hold a Mark Russell shot.
Suddenly the pendulum looked to be swinging in favour of Harps, who brought on the fresh legs of Gareth Harkin for Leo Donnellan in midfield. Shortly afterwards, in bid to re-impose their authority on the game, the home side made a double substitution with striker Karl Sheppard and Mark Byrne replacing Ryan Brennan and Dayle Rooney respectively.
The smell of a possible away win was in the Drumcondra air as McCabe again looked suspect from a cross and Sadiki was then far far away with a decent header following a corner.
With both teams badly needing a win to allay relegation concerns, an awful lot was at stake in the final quarter.
The dismissal of Shelbourne’s Luke Byrne for a foul on 75 minutes suddenly gave Harps a numerical advantage, and Harps really pushed for the winner.
Folan saw a shot deflected while with seven minutes of normal time left on the watch, Cretaro let fly with a decent effort that really tested McCabe.
Poynton reminded Harps that the game was still up for grabs at the other end but really didn’t get in the shot he should have from a promising position.
With calls bellowing from the touchline, Harps continued to push for a second. With their only other away games against Dundalk and Bohemians, points on the road between now and the end of the season will be hard earned.
As the game went into stoppage time, Harps almost snatched it, with substitute Tony McNamee just unable to get the touch required as he tried to get onto a ball from Kogler.
Moments later, Kolger was fouled on the edge of the Harps box by Karl Sheppard, and danger loomed again for the Dublin side.
But Shels held on for a point and while a draw is not a bad result for Harps, they may well feel that they should have bagged the three points on offer.
Next up for Harps is a home game against bottom of the table Cork City.
Shelbourne: McCabe, D. Byrne, L. Byrne, O’Hanlon, Poynton, Deegan, Fernandes, Quinn, Rooney, R. Brennan, Kilduff. Subs: M. Byrne for Rooney, and Sheppard for R. Brennan (both 61 mins), Dobbs for Kilduff (73 mins). Not used: O. Brennan, Kabia, O’Reilly.
Finn Harps: McGinley, McEleney, Webster, Sadiki, Folan, Russell, Donnellan, Connolly, B. McNamee, O’Sullivan, Kogler. Subs: Cretaro for Connolly (46 mins), G. Harkin for Donnellan (56 mins), T. McNamee for Russell (87 mins). Not used: Coyle, Delap, McGarvey, Todd.
Referee: S. Grant.
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