Derry City's season ends with penalty shootout misery as Sligo advance in cup

Derry City's Jack Malone wins this header ahead of Sligo Rovers striker, Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe.Derry City's Jack Malone wins this header ahead of Sligo Rovers striker, Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe.
Derry City's Jack Malone wins this header ahead of Sligo Rovers striker, Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe.
Sligo Rovers 0 Derry City 0 (Sligo win 3-1 on penalties)

DERRY CITY's 2020 season ended in heartbreaking fashion as Declan Devine's side suffered penalty shootout misery in the quarter-finals of the FAI Cup against Sligo Rovers at the Showgrounds.

It was a cruel end to City's cup run but it capped a hugely disappointing campaign for the Brandywell club.

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Cameron McJannett crashed an effort off the crossbar from close range with Derry's best chance of the game while Ed McGinty saved well from Stephen Mallon and Walter Figueira late on.

Neither side could find a breakthrough after 120 minutes of football and the tie came down to the dreaded shootout.

When ex-Derry striker, Junior Ogedie-Uzokwe missed his spotkick Derry had the upper hand.

However, skipper, Conor McCormack, Walter Figueira and Ibrahim Meite all missed their respective efforts as Sligo advanced to Sunday's semi-final against holders, Shamrock Rovers at Tallaght.

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For Derry, they'll be glad a disastrous season has finally come to an end.

It was third time lucky for this game, originally scheduled for November 1st but put back for a second time due to an outbreak of Covid-19 in the Derry City camp.

The odds were against the Candy Stripes who emerged from a two week quarantine yesterday and had limited time on the training pitch prior to their trip to Sligo.

It was the Foylesiders' only route back into Europe and a chance to transform what has been a poor season where the club narrowly avoided a relegation play-off spot on the final day of the league campaign.

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Devine made three changes to the team which ended the season with a 1-1 draw against Cork City at Turner's Cross. Walter Figueira, Conor Clifford and Joe Thomson all dropped to the bench with Colm Horgan, Gerardo Bruna and Stephen Mallon back in the starting line-up.

It was Argentine, Bruna's first start since the 1-1 draw at Shelbourne on August 15th at Tolka Park on the day his compatriot, the legendary Diego Maradona tragically passed away, aged 60.

On Derry's last visit to the Showgrounds on September 29th an 86th minute header won three points for Sligo Rovers after that match Devine said he was 'disgusted' with his team's performance and questioned his players' character.

However, there was certainly no question of their character in this tough fought cup tie.

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It was a frantic opening to the game and after four minutes Ciaron Coll burst forward on the left wing and his cross into the penalty area was met by the head of James Akintunde but his header from eight yards was safely gathered by Ed McGinty.

Ex City striker, Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe fouled Stephen Mallon wide on the right side on 23 minutes during an encouraging spell for the visitors. Bruna stepped up to take the resultant freekick and tried to catch out McGinty at the near post but his low left-footed strike was cleared by Sligo skipper, David Cawley.

Sligo's first shot on target arrived on 33 minutes when Junior dispossessed Horgan just inside the Derry half, raced through the middle before finding the run of Ronan Coughlan. The Bit O'Red striker took a touch but his low strike, searching for the far corner, was saved well by the foot of Peter Cherrie who put it behind for a corner.

From Cawley's corner Akintunde's backward header fell to Garry Buckley who fired his volley at the back post narrowly over the crossbar.

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Last year's top scorer, Junior was warming to the task and showed great strength to force Horgan off the ball at the halfway line before racing past the challenge of McCormack but he was stopped in his tracks inside the penalty area by Eoin Toal who stood tall.

Referee, Neil Doyle opted for no additional minutes at the end of the first half with the teams scoreless and with little between the two teams.

The home side started the second half strongly and from Regan Donelon's dangerous cross from the right side, Coughlan headed it on towards the back post where Alex Cooper was unable to direct his header on target.

It was an early let-off for Derry who were slow to start and Lewis Bank found himself in space before firing a cross-cum-shot towards goal which Cherrie needed to parry clear.

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Derry boss Devine felt the need to change things up on the hour mark, replacing Jack Malone with Ciaron Harkin and it had the desired effect.

Bruna fired a free-kick narrowly over the crossbar with a terrific effort from 25 yards on 65 minutes and Akintunde did well to drive past John Mahon inside the Sligo area six minutes later but the striker sent his curling effort wide of the far post.

Substitute,. Harkin played a superb pass to Mallon who peeled off his marker and the striker's low shot at the near post was saved well by the outstretched leg of McGinty.

Adam Hammill swung in the resultant corner kick and McJannett's powerful close range header cannoned off the crossbar on 69 minutes.

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The game was getting stretched and Devine made a double substitution with Figueria and Thomson coming on for Mallon and Bruna.

Figueria didn't have long to wait for his first chance as he found himself in acres of space after getting away from Buckley on the left wing and as he drove towards goal he tried to pick out his spot with a strike but it lacked purpose and McGinty was equal to it.

Derry certainly looked the most likely to find a winner and in the final minute Hammill went on a promising run towards goal but his low strike from the edge of the box was smothered by McGinty.

The Candystripes wouldn't have wanted the tie to go to extra-time given their lack of training over the past fortnight but neither side could find a breakthrough during normal time.

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Eight minutes into the first period of extra-time, Donelon's corner kick found Junior inside the six yard box and the ex-City man's downward header was saved by Cherrie.

That was the only goalmouth action until substitute Darragh Noone's miscued strike from 18 yards was headed clear by the well-placed Toal in the final minute of the half.

Donelon's free-kick with eight minutes to go forced Cherrie to acrobatically turn the ball over the crossbar with an excellent save as Sligo finished strongly.

Cooper showed a nice turn of pace to get past Coll and his shot was blocked bravely by McJannett. The ball came back to the lively Cooper who this time drilled his shot wide of the target.

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Sligo couldn't find a winner despite their best efforts and the tie was to be decided on penalties.

Ronan Coughlan, Cooper and Buckley all tucked away their spotkicks while Figueira, McCormack and finally Meite all fluffed their lines as Sligo advanced.

SLIGO ROVERS: E. McGinty; J. Mahon, G. Buckley, R. Donelon, A. Cooper, W. Seymore, L. Banks, D. Cawley (D. Noone 85), J. Ogedi-Uzokwe, R. Coughlan, R. De Vries (D. Kane 90+1); Subs Not Used - L. McNicholas,M. Byrne, D. Collins, S. Lynch, S. Oiberkis.

DERRY CITY: P. Cherrie; C. Horgan, E. Toal, C. McJannett, C. Coll; S. Mallon (J. Thomson 70), G. Bruna (W. Figueira 70), C. McCormack, J. Malone (C. Harkin 61), A. Hammill (C. Clifford 110); J. Akintunde (I. Metite 86); Subs Not Used - N. Gartside, R. Boyce.

Referee: Neil Doyle.

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