Derry City lost their opening game of the League of Ireland Airtricity Premier Division 1-0 to defending champions Sligo Rovers at the Brandywell on Friday evening.
Despite the cold temperatures and a blustery wind approximately 2,500 football supporters made their way to the Foyleside venue to cheer on their respective teams. Impressively, Sligo brought with them a travelling support of around 200 who made their voice known from the first minute right through until the end of the game.
Ian Baraclough’s Sligo started the game well. Winger Raffaele Cretaro consistently caused trouble for makeshift left-back Thomas Crawley. Derry boss, Declan Devine, then swapped Crawley with Barry McNamee, who was playing on the left wing.
Friday’s game provided very little in the way of clear goal scoring opportunities but Sligo were able to hold to on possession much better than Declan Devine’s men and the Bit O’Red took the lead through 30 year-old English striker Anthony Elding in the 30th minute.
Raffaele Cretaro raced clear on the right side before firing pass across the face of goal; Elding reacted brilliantly and fired the ball past Derry goalkeeper, Gerard Doherty, from close range.
Derry went in search of an equaliser and Devine decided to take the game to his opponents early on the second half when he replaced Crawley with striker Michael Rafter; the Candy Stripes now had three forwards on the pitch.
Ruaidhri Higgins played a superb pass forward to Marc Griffin in the 62 minute. Australian born Griffin controlled the ball and went between two defenders and found himself on the edge of the box. The former Dundalk striker attempted to lob the out rushing Gary Rogers but his effort dropped wide of the far post.
Derry put the champions under considerable pressure during the final 15 minutes of the game.
Second half substitute Ryan Curran’s close range effort was hit straight at Rogers and captain Barry Molloy had the opportunity to snatch a point at the very end but his injury time header went over the crossbar.
Next up for Derry City is Drogheda United in the second leg of the quarter final of the Setanta Sports Cup at Hunky Dorys Park on Monday evening. The aggregate score is 1-1.
Derry City: (4-4-2) Gerard Doherty; Thomas Crawley (Michael Rafter 51 mins), Shane McEleney, Ryan McBride, Simon Madden; Patrick McEleney, Ruaidhri Higgins, Barry Molloy, Barry McNamee; Mark Griffin (Ryan Curran 80 mins), Rory Patterson.
Subs not used: James Gallagher, Tony McNamee, Sean Curran, Conail Kelly.
Sligo Rovers: (4-5-1) Gary Rogers; Alan Keane, Gavin Peers, Evan McMillan, Seamus Conneely; Rafael Cretaro (Pascal Millien 85 mins), David Cawley, Ross Gaynor, Joseph Ndo, Ryan Connolly (Kieran Djilali 70 mins); Anthony Elding.
Subs not used: Ciaran Kelly, Iarfhlaith Davoren, Jeff Henderson, Liam Martin, Marty Owens.
Referee: Mr. Neil Doyle (Dublin).
See tomorrow’s Sunday Journal for full indepth report, analysis and post match reaction from Derry City captain Barry Molloy and manager Declan Devine.