DERRY City will attempt to replicate their success of the first series of matches in the Premier Division, having crashed back to earth defeated at a packed and noisy Sligo Showgrounds last night.
jONATHAN GRAY reports
Indeed, Derry’s magnificent response to that opening day 0-1 defeat at the Brandywell resulted in a 10 match unbeaten run and that will have to be repeated if Declan Devine’s side are to keep pace with what appear to be an accomplished Sligo side.
Sligo, therefore, continue to hold the dreaded Indian Sign over the “Candy Stripes,” Ian Baraclough’s men having not lost a league match to Derry in their last 10 contests.
And while the visitors really struggled after the break, the dismissal of centre-back, Shane McEleney in the 68th minute and the concession of a penalty, compounded the woes of the Brandywell side.
And there can be no complaints with this defeat as Derry were clearly second best after the break as Sligo romped forward at will.
Indeed, any suggestion of a crisis in the Sligo camp due to recent results, has been well and truly dispelled with both strikers, Anthony Elding and Rafaele Cretaro, absent from last night’s starting line-up.
Overall, it was a superb Sligo performance, probably the best of the season so far and the Bit O’Red would not have been embarrased had they recorded another goal or two.
But back to the game and this fixture was turned on its head with Sligo netting timely goals on either side of the half-time break.
The opening strike was created after centre-half, Gavin Peers, carried the ball forward and while Derry appeared to stand off, he threaded the ball through to Pascal Millien who fed the unmarked Lee Lynch and he side-footed the ball home from just six yards giving Gerard Doherty no chance.
Happy to get into the changing room with a one goal deficit, Derry failed to match Sligo’s enthusiasm after the break.
And that failure saw the home side double their lead in the 55th minute.
Aaron Green drove an effort into the penalty area where David Cawley got a foot to the effort to poke it home and the visitors were in trouble.
Derry could have been further in arrears but this game was ended as a contest in the 68th minute when McEleney brought down Ross Gaynor as he cruised into the area.
That tackle saw him see red for the second time this season and the Brandywell side will reflect on a performance which never really took off.
Sligo in Total Control
To be fair, the visitors battled hard in an effort to get forward despite their numerical inferiority, but Sligo comfortably controlled the match until the end.
Earlier in the opening half, Barry McNamee was again involved in a penalty claim, but as was the case against St. Patrick’s Athletic, he was booked for simulation when many felt he had been upended by keeper, Gary Rogers.
Keeper, Gerard Doherty, helped keep the score down with a series of vital saves as Derry found themselves under the cosh after failing to get their act together during the early stages of each half.
Played in front of a superb Bank Holiday crown of 4,160 fans - which included a superb travelling support - this North-West Derby attracted significant attention but it was Sligo who rose to the occasion.
David Cawley had a shot blocked by Doherty during the early stages while the Derry keeper also did well to pluck a Ross Gaynor free-kick out of the air despite the crowded goalmouth.
However, in the 21st minute the visitors screamed for a penalty kick after Barry McNamee appeared to have been brought down by Rogers, after the Donegal lad had raced onto a Sean Houston pass.
And while match referee, Dave McKeon, took a second to make up his mind, he opted to book the Ramelton lad for an alleged dive.
Sligo were in total control after the break and roared on by their large home support, Derry can have no complaints with the end scoreline.
Indeed, they created very little throughout the game and for the “Candy Stripes” this response will centre on gathering their thoughts, re-grouping and preparing for the visit of UCD to the Brandywell this Friday night.
For Sligo, the victory will give the men from the Showgrounds a significant confidence booster and while they have now moved three points clear of both Derry and St. Patrick’s Athletic, the race for the 2013 title continues to gather great interest.
SLIGO ROVERS - Gary Rogers; Alan Keane, Gavin Peers, Evan McMillan (Jeff Henderson, 88) Iarfhlaith Davoren; Pascal Millien, Lee Lynch (Danny Ventre 73), David Cawley, Joseph Ndo, Ross Gaynor (Liam Martin 77, Aaron Greene.
Subs. not used: Adam Murphy, Kieran Djilali, Ryan Connolly, and Raffaele Cretaro.
DERRY CITY - Gerard Doherty; Simon Madden, Shane McEleney, Ryan McBride, Dermot McCaffrey; Patrick McEleney (Michael Duffy 62), Barry Molly, Sean Houston, Barry McNamee; Mark Griffin (Michael Rafter) 62, Rory Patterson.
Subs. not used - James Gallagher, Stewart Greacen, Conall Kelly and Ryan Curran.
REFEREE - Mr. David McKeon (Dublin).