Ruaidhri Higgins begins Derry City reign with the perfect victory at Sligo Rovers

Sligo Rovers 0 Derry City 1

Saturday, 24th April 2021, 8:00 pm
Updated Saturday, 24th April 2021, 8:02 pm
Derry City players celebrate after Will Patching's penalty at the start of the second half. Picture by Kevin Moore.

Ruaidhri Higgins' reign as Derry City manager began with a superb victory over high flying Sligo Rovers thanks to a second half Will Patching penalty.

The comfortable victory ended the Brandywell club's 183 day wait for a win as they finally got their season off the mark.

It wasn't enough to get them off the foot of the table after seven games as they joined Longford on five points but it was a hugely encouraging start to Higgins' tenure.

The 36 year-old Limavady man, appointed Declan Devine's successor just 24 hours before kick-off, had one training session to make his mark and he will be delighted with a well organised defensive display .

It was Derry's first clean sheet of the 2021 campaign and a first victory on the road since last August when they defeated St Pat's at Richmond Park.

Patching, unavailable against his parent club Dundalk last Tuesday night the only change from Devine's last game in charge but Darren Cole returned to the bench after a spell on the sidelines with a back injury.

Knowing a win would take them back up level with leaders Shamrock Rovers, Sligo were unable to break down Derry and didn't manage to have a single shot on target throughout the 90 plus minutes.

New Derry City boss Ruaidhri Higgins issues instructions against Sligo. Picture by Kevin Moore.

Sligo enjoyed plenty of the ball during the opening 15 minutes but there was nothing created of note during the early stages.

Derry well organised and forced the Bit O'Red to go long in attempts to find striker Johnny Kenny and Romeo Parkes on the left wing.

Derry had the first shot of the match on the half hour mark when Patching latched onto the loose ball on the edge of the penalty area. He made a yard on his marker before firing high over the crossbar from 25yards.

Jordan Gibson also tried his luck from just inside the Derry box but his left footed strike swerved well off target just before the interval.

Garry Buckley brings Will Patching down during Saturday's game at the Showgrounds.

The new Derry boss will have been pleased with his side's first half performance as they stifled the home side.

And it was the Candy Stripes who showed more attacking intent at the start of the second half. Fitzgerald raced down the right wing before he was brought crashing down by substitute Regan Donelon.

Patching sent the resultant freekick into a crowded penalty area and Fitzgerald went down under the challenge of Greg Bolger before Parkhouse was fouled by John Mahon and the referee, John McLoughlin pointed to the spot.

Up stepped Patching who confidently slotted his spotkick to the left of Ed McGinty and into the net, sending the Sligo keeper the wrong way.

It was the first goal under the new manager and the first time this season Derry took the lead in a game.

The expectant comeback from Sligo never really materialised as Derry comfortably managed the game.

There were five minutes of additional time but Derry managed to see off late pressure from the home lot.

It was the perfect start for Higgins as the Candy Stripes finally got their league campaign off and running.

Sligo: E. McGinty; C.Horgan, R. McCourt (R. Donelon h-t), D. J. Mahon, G. Buckley J. Gibson (D. Collins 81), D. Cawley, G. Bolger, N. Morahan (L. Banks 69) , J. Kenny (R. DeVries 81); R. Parkes (M. Byrne 69); Subs Not Used - R. Brush, L. Banks, W. Figueira, S. Lynch, P. Maguire.

Derry City: N. Gartside; R. Boyce, E. Toal, C. McJannet, C. Coll (D. Lafferty 72); W. Fitzgerald, J. Malone (Thomson 62), C. Harkin, J. Akintunde; W. Patching; D. Parkhouse (B. Barr 80) ; Subs Not Used - J. Lemoignan,M McChrystal, D. Cole, D. Lupano, P. Ferry, C. McLaughlin.

Referee: John McLoughlin.