The battle to avoid the drop in the Airtricity League Premier Division could yet go down to the wire after Finn Harps and UCD played out an exciting scoreless draw at Finn Park .

This result leaves the students six behind the Donegal club with three games to play and Harps are now six adrift of Cork City.

The bottom club is automatically relegated while the side the finishes second bottom goes into a relegation play-off.

Harps began positively and UCD endured a couple of scares as three times the ball flashed across the face of goal with Tony McNamee’s long throws causingsome real bother for the visitors.

With leading striker Nathan Boyle suspended, veteran Raffaele Cretaro was deployed up front for the home side and showed some deft touches.

The first clear-cut chance fell to Mark Coyle on 21 minutes when he surged into the UCD before shooting just wide.

UCD then worried Harps at the other end as Dara Keane put Yousef Mahdy racing towards goal but his shot was blocked by two retreating defenders.

With the game opening up UCD had to call upon Mark Dignam to make a goal-line clearance under pressure on 25 minutes and shortly afterwards Harry Ascroft saw a header from a good position cleared while Cretaro had a close-range effort saved by Conor Kearns.

And Kearns was called upon again to stop a Mark Timlin shot and then one from Cretaro as Harps piled on the pressure with Mark Coyle also threatening to break the deadlock.

UCD’s only other chance before the break was a Jason McClelland strike that was blocked by Ascroft.

Cretaro went close again for Harps early in the second before UCD almost took the lead on 57 minutes but Mark Anthony McGInley pulled off a fine save to deny McClelland.

Substitute Stephen Doherty had space inside the box on 66 minutes but Kearns made a decent save with both sides really going for it.

Harps had the better chances and Cretaro had a penalty plea dismissed.

The home side had the better chances but it ended all square.

Next up for Harps is a trip to Shamrock Rovers before their final home game, against Waterford.

Their last game is away to Derry City.

Finn Harps: McGinley; Borg, Ascroft, Cowan, Todd, Russell; McNamee, R. Harkin (G. Harkin, 63 mins), Timlin (Doherty, 63 mins); Coyle (Place, 85 mins), Cretaro.

UCD: Kearns; Farrell, McEvoy, Boore, Dignam; Kerrigan (O’Farrell, 80 mins), Keaney, Doyle, Keane, McClelland (Kinsella Bishop, 88 mins); Mahdy.

Referee: J. McLoughlin

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