Late Ronan Boyce strike earns Derry City a precious point against Sligo Rovers
Derry City 1 Sligo Rovers 1
RONAN BOYCE's 86th minute deflected strike rescued a precious point against Sligo Rovers to stretch Derry City s unbeaten run to eight games.
It was the talented right-back's fourth goal of the season and it cancelled out Jordan Gibson's 55th minute goal to keep the Brandywell club in sixth spot.
The Candy Stripes wait for a home win, which stretches back to a 2-0 win over Shelbourne last October, goes on but Ruaidhri Higgins will be delighted with the character shown by his troops who were applauded off the pitch by 250 supporters at the end of the match.
Derry had started the match 10 points behind their opponents and they were unchanged from the 2-1 win over Finn Harps in the north west derby last Friday night.
Liam Buckley, however, rang the changes after defeat to St Pat's at the weekend as he attempted to stop a two match losing streak.
Former Derry players Colm Horgan and Walter Figueira, Romeo Parkes and Robbie McCourt missed out with Shane Blaney, Regan Donelan, Ryan de Vries and Johnny Kenny all handed starts.
Sligo were first to try their luck after a drab opening as de Vries drove into space inside the Derry half before sending a 25 yards strike harmlessly over the target on 10 minutes.
That wayward effort was the only strike of note during the opening half hour of a scrappy, slow tempo encounter with neither side asserting control in the match.
Danny Lafferty showed persistence and determination to haunt down the ball and get past Lewis Banks wide on the left on 35 minutes. The City left-back ran towards goal before cutting it back into the path of Parkhouse who peeled off his marker but the striker's first time effort went narrowly over the crossbar.
Sligo applied pressure with five minutes to go and when Greg Bolger found the feet of Johnny Kenny on the edge of the Derry penalty area, the 18 year-old striker took a touch before forcing a neat save from Nathan Gartside who turned it behind.
Derry were dealt a blow on the stroke of half-time when losing skipper Eoin Toal as the centre half appeared to sustain a hip injury and was replaced by Danny Lupano. The Belgian was making his first appearance since his sending off against St Patrick's Athletic at Richmond Park on April 9th.
Derry injected some life into the match at the start of the second half and man of the moment Patching, turned inside Bolger before firing his 20 yard strike just wide of the post.
It was the Bit O'Red who made the breakthrough on 55 minutes from a long punt upfield from Ed McGinty which set Gibson one-on-one with Gartside and the Englishman made no mistake with a clinical finish for his sixth goal of the season.
James Akintunde cut inside onto his right foot before slotting into the feet of Jack Malone on 62 minutes but the midfielder's curling effort was saved well by McGinty.
The game sparked into life and Gibson forced a point blank save from Gartside moments before Akintunde's left footed strike was turned behind by McGinty.
From Patching's corner kick Lafferty rose highest but his header was headed off the line by Donelan.
Gibson attempted a speculative strike from 35 yards which dipped just over the crossbar before Mark Byrne tried to lob the advancing Gartside shortly afterwards but his effort bounced just wide.
Sligo boss Buckley made a triple substitution with 12 minutes on the clock with Walter Figueira, David Cawley and Romeo Parkes all introduced into the fray.
Derry were back in the game in 85 minutes as Boyce fired his shot into a crowded penalty area and it took a fortuitous deflection off Shane Blaney to find its way past McGinty.
The Sligo keeper needed to be at his best to turn Patching's stunning strike over the crossbar at full stretch as both teams were made to settle for a point.
Derry City: N. Gartside: R. Boyce, E. Toal (D. Lupano 45), C. McJannet, D. Lafferty; W. Fitzgerald, C. Harkin, J. Malone, J. Akintunde; W. Patching; D. Parkhouse (M. Walsh 64, P. Ferry 81); Subs Not Used - J. Lemoignan, C. Coll, J. Thomson, D. Cole, C. McLaughlin, B. Barr.
Sligo Rovers: E. McGinty: L. Banks, M. Byrne (D. Cawley 78), R. Donelan, S. Blaney, N. Morahan, G. Bolger, J. Mahon, R. deVries (W. Figueria 78), J. Gibson;J. Kenny (R. Parkes 78); Subs not used - R. Brush, C. Horgan, D. Kane,S. Lynch, C. Heaney, P. Maguire.
Referee - Derek Tomney.