An injury time Karl O’Sullivan equaliser denied Sligo Rovers all three points at Finn Park, breaking Rovers’ hearts at the death after the visitors had gone 2-0 up and were cruising.
overs were headed for all three points, but an 85th minute Sean Boyd goal was followed by O’Sullivan’s goal in added time to deny Rovers a first win since September 14th.
Johnny Kenny missed a first half penalty before giving the Bit O’Red the lead in the second-half, with Niall Morahan adding a second against the ten men of Finn Harps following Kosovar Sadiki’s dismissal.
Despite Rovers’ poor run of form in the second half of the season, they remained in third place all along, but the pressure was on with Derry and Bohemian slowly catching up.
Liam Buckley’s side knew that three points were an absolute must coming away from Finn Park, with Derry City just one point behind before they play Drogheda United on Sunday afternoon.
Although last weekend’s defeat to Shamrock Rovers would have come as no surprise, the result meant the pressure was really on Buckley and his players, who had only won two games in their last 14 in all competitions.
Rovers poor form since the mid-season break appears to have come from nowhere, with Longford Town the only side below them in the form table.
Nonetheless, that had to be put to one side heading to Ballybofey on Saturday evening, as anything less than a win would have severely hampered their chances of third which is already under threat.
Buckley still had to plan without Greg Bolger, who sat out the second game of his two game suspension for 12 yellow cards.
Robbie McCourt recovered from a neck problem in time for the trip to Donegal, while it came too soon for Shane Blaney.
Wet and windy conditions in Ballybofey should have suited Harps, but their task was made trickier after just five minutes when Kosovar Sadiki was red carded for a nasty looking challenge on Kenny who was down for some time receiving treatment.
Babatunde Owolabi should have given Ollie Horgan’s men the lead shortly afterwards when Barry McNamee caught McCourt out of position, but the former Waterford man just got back in the time to clear the shot off the line after Owolabi had rounded McGinty.
Johnny Kenny looked like he was in the mood, but he should have done better after 28 minutes when he robbed Mark Coyle of possession before tearing down on goal and shooting. His tame effort was well saved by McGinley, and perhaps he regretted not squaring for Walter Figueira to his left.
McGinley in the Harps net kept the scoreline level as Rovers found him in inspired form as he forced Adam McDonnell’s long range effort onto the crossbar.
On 40 minutes, referee John McLoughlin pointed to the spot after Mark Coyle was adjudged to have committed a foul on Kenny in the box.
The 18-year-old took responsibility for the penalty himself, but perhaps the boos from the home fans had the desired impact as McGinley went the right way to save the Riverstown man’s penalty.
McGinley again was on hand to save the day minutes later when he palmed Kenny’s effort wide on his left side.
A big second half was needed from the Bit O’Red, and they started perfectly. Garry Buckley’s long ball forward was perfectly weighted for Kenny, who did enough to hold off pressure from two defenders before tucking his effort past the onrushing McGinley.
The fact Harps were down to ten men certainly helped, but Rovers didn’t care, they needed three points.
On 57 minutes, it was 2-0 to Rovers. Ryan Connolly didn’t get enough on his attempted clearance which fell nicely for Morahan, who turned and fired into the back of the net, sending the visiting fans into rapturous celebrations in the lashing rain.
The visitors did have to withstand a period of pressure from the home team, but having taken their biggest threat off in Tunde Owolabi, they would certainly find it tough to break down a Rovers side absolutely desperate for three points.
With less than five minutes to go, the Donegal men gave themselves a lifeline as Boyd nodded Jordan Mustoe’s corner past McGinty making it 2-1 with just minutes left.
And it wasn’t over yet. In injury time, substitute O’Sullivan saved the day as his shot somehow evaded the visiting defence to make it 2-2 in the dying seconds.
Rovers host Drogheda United at The Showgrounds on Friday night, before Longford Town travel to Sligo on the following Monday for the rescheduled game.
Finn Harps: Mark Anthony McGinley, Jordan Mustoe, Kosovar Sadiki, David Webster (Adam Foley, 85), Ryan Connolly (Karl O’Sullivan, 65), Barry McNamee (Dan Hawkins, 64), Mark Coyle, Shane McEleney, Ryan Rainey, Will Seymore, Babatunde Owolabi (Sean Boyd, 64).
Sligo Rovers: Ed McGinty, Lewis Banks, John Mahon, Garry Buckley, Robbie McCourt, Walter Figueira (Melvyn Lorenzen, 79), David Cawley, Adam McDonnell, Niall Morahan, Ryan DeVries, Johnny Kenny (Romeo Parkes, 79).
Referee: John McLoughlin.