Stoppage time defeat to Sligo Rovers still hurts Ruaidhri Higgins as Derry City boss plots a Bit O’Revenge

DERRY City’s injury time defeat to Sligo Rovers at the Showgrounds last May saw them sink to their lowest ebb under Ruaidhri Higgins’ management.

It was the third defeat on the spin for an out-of-sorts Derry as Seamas Keogh scored deep into stoppage time for managerless Sligo to punish another abject display.

The Candy Stripes went into the match desperate to turn their form around after two defeats and two draws in their previous four games but the 2-1 defeat compounded those woes.

It was a result which ‘hurt’ recalls Higgins who managed to get his team out of the rut but it also proved the catalyst for their current 13 match unbeaten run in domestic competition.

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“We haven’t beaten them this season,” stressed the City boss. “They beat us back in May in the 94th minute and it hurt. It was a bad night for us and it’s important we approach the game the way we have done in recent weeks.

“That defeat was at the back end of a really difficult period for us and it’s still a bit raw to be honest,” admitted Higgins. “It was a difficult run. We’ve lost four games this season and that was the third in the run of three defeats in a row so it hurt,” he repeated.

Ahead of tonight’s encounter there couldn’t be a more contrasting atmosphere around the Derry dressing room with Higgins’ troops determined to keep the pressure on league leaders Shamrock Rovers who stretched their lead back out to four points after a big win over Finn Harps on Sunday.

Higgins was present at that game in Tallaght as he began preparations for next Sunday’s FAI Cup quarter-final against the Hoops but the Limavady man knows he can’t take his eye off tonight’s opponents who his side have yet to earn a win against this season.

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Sligo Rovers players celebrate Seamas Keogh’s injury time winner against Derry at the Showgrounds last May

He’s hoping home advantage reaps dividends having seemingly turned around their fortunes at Brandywell where they boast a seven match unbeaten run.

The packed attendances and atmosphere generated at the Lone Moor Road venue in recent weeks has played its part in Derry’s upsurge in results and Higgins hopes that can be replicated again tonight.

“We’re now full of confidence. It’s a great game and hopefully the crowd can come out in their numbers once again. We weren’t brilliant against Bohs but the crowd gave us energy and we looked more threatening on the counter attack.

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"The difference they can make on nights like that is really massive. I know it’s a Tuesday night, a school night, but we need them and we’re a better team when they make the noise they made against Bohemians.

“It’s a big game for us,” he said. “It’s the business end of the season so every win is crucial. They will come and have a go at us, I’m sure of that. So we need to make sure we’re prepared fully, do our homework on them as we always do and try and pick up another big three points at home.”