Sligo Rovers 0, Derry City 0
GERARD Doherty’s superb double save in the first half ensured Derry City left the Sligo Showgrounds with what could prove a valuable point in the race for the third European spot.
With fourth placed, Shamrock Rovers held to draw by Bray, the Candystripes maintained their five point advantage over the Hoops.
However, Kenny Shiels’ side were fortunate not to be behind nine minutes after kick-off when Raffaele Cretaro was presented with a glorious chance six yards from goal but was denied by a brilliant tackle by Conor McCormack.
And the visitors needed Doherty to be at his best to deny Liam Martin who was clean through on goal before blocking Kieran Sadlier’s rebound.
Sligo are unbeaten at home since the opening day defeat to Shamrock Rovers and it’s easy to see why as they produced a battling display from the off.
But it was Derry who had the first chance when McCormack floated in a free-kick from the right side of midfield and Vemmelund rose highest, however, his header from 14 yards went wide after six minutes.
Three minutes later and as Vemmelund dangerously attempted to shield the ball from Liam Martin inside the Derry penalty area, the Sligo man dispossessed the Dane and found Cretaro arriving late in the six yard box.
However, McCormack did superbly to nip the ball from his toes as the Sligo striker delayed his shot and Derry managed to clear the danger.
With McClean awarded his fifth start of the season, his night was cut short after sustaining an ankle injury in a tackle with John Russell and he was replaced by Nathan Boyle after just 12 minutes.
The visitors were forced into an early reshuffle with substitute, Boyle taking up a place on the right wing as Schubert dropped back into the right back position with Jarvis taking up his natural left back slot.
From a throw-in deep inside the Sligo half, the ball broke to City’s top goalscorer, Rory Patterson, but his looping shot on the volley under pressure went over the bar on 17 minutes.
Midway through the first half and Derry skipper, McBride then made an excellent clearance at the near post as he cut out Russell’s inswinging cross from the left wing with Martin lurking behind him in the six yard area.
Doherty produced an outstanding save on to keep Derry on level terms on 35 minutes when Sadlier played Martin clean through on goal but his shot was bravely blocked by the Derry stopper.
The ball then broke kindly to Sadlier and his shot from 12 yards was again blocked by the foot of Doherty as the Candystripes survived once more.
Derry broke quickly and Schubert’s acrobatic attempt on the volley at the back post went harmlessly over the crossbar.
With the interval approaching Barry McNamee found space 20 yards from goal and his strike forced Schlingermann into action for the first time.
The sides went in at half-time on level terms but Sligo really should have been ahead but for that wasted chance by Cretaro and two excellent saves by Doherty.
It was bright start to the second period from Rovers and Jimmy Keohane did well to meet Cretaro’s cross at the back post but his cushioned header was gathered easily by Doherty.
Out of nothing Derry came so close to taking the lead when McCormack laid the ball off to Ronan Curtis and his curling strike from the edge of the box deflected off a Sligo defender and went just wide.
Vemmelund arrived late from the resultant corner and his free header across the face of goal took a slight defelction and it hit the post on its way behind.
The pressure was mounting on the visitors and as they failed to clear from a corner, Gary Boylan’s strike was cleared off the line by Aaron McEneff.
Derry were almost made to pay for substitute Josh Daniels’ misplaced pass with two minutes to go as Sadlier drove his cross towards the far post and it went narrowly wide.
The Candystripes huffed and puffed at the end and came close from a McEneff free-kick but they’ll no doubt be delighted with a point as they turn their attentions to Monday night’s EA Sports Cup semi-final against Limerick at Brandywell.
Sligo Rovers - M. Schlingermann; T. Adebayo-Rowling, G. Peers, G. Boylan, J. Keohane; J. Russell, C. Roddan, K. Sadlier, D. Kearns R Cretaro; Subs Not Used - C. Nugent, C. Lyons, P. Roberts, M. Leahy, M. Place, G. Armstrong, P. Doyle.
Derry City - G. Doherty; D. Jarvis, N. Vemmelund, R. McBride, P. McClean (N. Boyle 12); L. Schubert, C. McCormack, A. McEneff, R. Curtis (J. Daniels 87); B. McNamee; R. Patterson; Subs Not Used - S. Patton, A. Barry, H. Monaghan, J. Allen, K. Ward.
Referee - Robert Rogers (Dublin).