DUBLIN rivals Shamrock Rovers and St Patrick's Athletic failed to produce a winner after a tensely scrapped derby clash at Tolka Park.
Both sides went into the tie knowing their title ambitions would get a major boost if they could secure the three points, and it was Pat's who came closest only to be denied by a superb save from Rovers 'keeper Barry Murphy.
Drogheda remain top of the Premier Division table, a point ahead of St Pat's and three in front of Rovers.
As a part-time outfit, Pat Scully's Hoops have done remarkably well to put themselves in such a position in their first year back in the top flight after promotion.
In the early exchanges Rovers looked every inch the side that has only lost one home game in the two years Scully has been their manager.
David Cassidy might have opened the scoring on five minutes when he flashed a shot across goal from eight yards after the visitors failed to clear a corner.
It was from a Cassidy cross that the Hoops next threatened in the 17th minute but Saints 'keeper Barry Ryan denied Dave Tyrell with his feet.
Nine minutes later, Cassidy pounced on a slip by Stephen Paisley and fed the unmarked Ger Rowe 12 yards from goal but the striker shot poorly over after a heavy first touch.
There was little to separate the sides for the remainder of the half but St Pat's appeared to get a big let-off eight minutes after the restart.
Dave Tyrell's corner was firmly headed towards goal by Tadhg Purcell past 'keeper Ryan. Stephen Brennan cleared off the line with the Hoops bench vainly claiming hand-ball.
Despite owning possession for long periods, with Michael Keane and Keith Fahey particularly impressive in midfield, the Saints found it hard to break down the home defence.
This was summed up in the 65th minute when Brennan's chipped pass found Mark Quigley in the box but the striker was ushered away from goal by Dean Lawrence.
Three minutes later, the Saints passed up a great chance when Darragh Maguire was denied at close range by Hoops 'keeper Barry Murphy after connecting with a Ryan Guy flick.
Murphy surpassed that effort in the 70th minute when he somehow kept out a Quigley effort from four yards that seemed certain to find the net.
Remarkably, neither side really threatened again until the 88th minute when Saints sub Keith Barker failed to get any connection on a low cross in the box by Brennan.
As the clock ticked away, the errors increased as the nervousness in both camps to avoid a costly defeat became evident.
Ultimately, neither side possessed the fire power to break down the well organised defence of the other. The scoreline - and the title race - remained as you were.
© Irish Independent