SLIGO ROVERS 1 DERRY CITY 1
Derry City came away from one of their hoodoo grounds with a well-earned point when they held league leaders Sligo Rovers to a 1-1 draw at the Showgrounds last night (Friday).
David McDaid was the scorer for the Candystripes through a penalty in the 35th minute after Simon Madden was brought down. The goal cancelled out a Sligo strike from their top marksman Danny North after 24 minutes.
Sligo Rovers remain unbeaten and on top of the table with seventeen points after seven games, five wins and two draws. They’re a point ahead of Shamrock Rovers, under former Derry boss Stephen Kenny, who got back to winning ways with a 6-0 demolition of Dundalk. Derry City are in sixth spot, six points behind the leaders.
City needed something out of this game and though manager Declan Devine insisted during the week that they were looking forward to the challenge, there was still that nagging fact that City failed to beat Sligo in four meetings last season.
In front of a crowd of around 2,500, Sligo started more brightly. City keeper Gerard Doherty, again in fine form, was quickly in the action, holding a shot from Iarflaith Davoren in the third minute and then punching away a Joseph Ndo free-kick two minutes later.
Derry City’s first good chance came in the eighth minute when Mark Farren went close after being put through cleverly by Patrick McEleney. However a short time later Sligo showed they could be dangerous on the break when creating a good opening for Romuald Baco, who blasted over the bar.
It was going to take a decent effort to beat City ‘keeper Doherty, but North showed his sharpness this season when he tucked a shot just inside the post to give Sligo the lead. That was putting it up to City, but the response came not long after when Madden’s trickery in the box drew the foul from Davoren and McDaid made no mistake from the spot.
City had a chance to go ahead three minutes into the second half - skipper Kevin Deery met the ball well but saw it shake the crossbar. And in the 56th minute Barry Molloy almost capitalized when he found himself in space at the edge of the Rovers’ box.
However, as the half progressed, Sligo Rovers started to get the upper hand. Substitute Ross Gaynor hit a free-kick over the Derry crossbar in the 68th minute, and seven minutes later it took a classic interception by Eddie McCallion to deny Rovers a great chance.
It needed solid defence from the City backline, and inspirational work between the posts from Doherty, to keep Sligo at bay in the closing stages. And, not unusually, the team under pressure had a chance to snatch victory themselves, with substitute Rory Patterson almost being the hero of the day when he went close in the 83rd minute.
Overall it wasn’t a great game by any standards, despite both sides having a reputation for attractive football. Derry’s defence has conceded just four in seven games, with only St Pat’s having a better record. Manager Declan Devine, while happy with this point, will be looking for more chances to be created and converted if City are to challenge for honours.
SLIGO ROVERS: Rogers, Davoren, Peers, McGuinness, Keane, Ventre, Lynch, Ndo, Boco, Cretaro, North. Subs - Gaynor for Ventre (64 mins), Quigley for Boco (80 mins), Dillon for Ndo (81 mins).
DERRY CITY: Doherty, McCallion, McCafferty, Molloy, Deery, McDaid, McBride, McLaughlin, Madden, Farren, McEleney. Subs - Patterson for McEleney (71 mins), McNamee for Patterson (83 mins).
REFEREE: R. Winter (Dublin).