WATCH: Magic Will Patching goal gives Derry City a fifth win on the spin

Derry City 1 Sligo Rovers 0

WILL PATCHING's spectacular first half free-kick clinched a precious home victory for Derry City over Sligo Rovers as the Brandywell club moved back to within a point of leaders Shamrock Rovers.

The Stockport man returned to the starting line-up after a troublesome ankle injury and he produced a moment of magic on 15 minutes to decide this match.

It was his 11th goal of the season and worthy of the three points which keeps the Candystripes within touching distance of the leaders.

Will Patching celebrates his free-kick which broke the deadlock against Sligo Rovers at Brandywell.

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Derry were dominant and full value for the victory - the Brandywell club's fifth win and fifth clean sheet on the spin as they hit form at the right time.

Ruaidhri Higgins made three changes to the team that defeated Bohs at Brandywell last Friday night. Jamie McGonigle was recalled to the starting line-up for the first time in five matches. He replaced James Akintunde while Patching made his first start in three league games with Sadou Diallo dropping to the bench.

Shane McEleney was also handed a start alongside Mark Connolly at the heart of the City defence at the expense of the injured Ciaran Coll.

Sligo came into the match on the back of a two match winning run and boasting an unbeaten record against Derry this season, drawing 0-0 on their last visit to Brandywell and winning in dramatic fashion at home last May when Seamas Keogh netted a stoppage time goal.

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Sligo Rovers keeper Luke McNicholas ends up in the back of the net with the ball after Will Patching opened the deadlock with a sublime free-kick.

Since that defeat to the Bit O'Red, Derry have gone on a 13 match unbeaten run in domestic competition, closing the gap on Shamrock Rovers with seven games to go.

The home side made an encouraging start and really should've been ahead after just nine minutes.

Cameron McJannet did superbly to get past Lewis Banks on the left wing and delivered a dangerous ball into the six yard box but Graydon's downward header bounced over the crossbar with the goal gaping.

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Derry were dominating and deservedly broke the deadlock after 15 minutes when Patching was fouled just outside the Sligo penalty area by Frank Liivak.

The ex-Man City native curled the resultant free-kick over the wall and into the top corner of the net with a sublime strike despite the best efforts of Luke McNicholas who got a hand to the ball.

It was Patching's 11th goal of the season but his first league goal in nine games!

Cameron Dummigan tried his luck from 35 yards with a decent strike which needed to be palmed away by the alert McNicholas on the half hour mark.

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Despite their dominance, there was a timely warning for Derry 10 minutes before the break as Brian Maher needed to fist away Will Fitzgerald's deflected cross from the left inside a crowded six yard box.

With two minutes of stoppage time signalled, Michael Duffy stung the hands of the Sligo keeper with a powerful strike from 25 yards. The ball eventually came back to Duffy who volleyed narrowly over the crossbar from the 18 yard box as City finished the half strongly.

The winger, who scored in his last two league outings, was gifted an excellent chance six minutes after the break when Graydon drilled a cross into the Sligo penalty area but Duffy blasted over from 12 yards.

From Patching's corner which was fizzed across the face of goal towards Duffy on 55 minutes but the winger's low strike was saved superbly by McNicholas as the ball went through a crowd of bodies inside the penalty area.

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McGonigle then sent a half volley narrowly over the crossbar as Derry went searching for that insurance goal.

Duffy swung an inviting cross into the Sligo six yard box but Graydon couldn't get enough on his header and it glanced wide of the far post on 69 minutes.

Patrick McEleney came so close to finding the net with a snapshot from distance which bounced the wrong side of the post with the keeper beaten.

Derry sub, James Akintunde found himself in behind the Sligo defence after a neat pass from Duffy but his shot from a tight angle with his first touch was blocked bravely by McNicholas.

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It was a nervous finale to the game for the home support but Derry managed to hold on for that fifth successive clean and a win which keeps their title hopes alive and kicking.

Derry City: Maher: Boyce, Connolly, S. McEleney, McJannet; Graydon (C. Kavanagh 84), Dummigan, P. McEleney, Duffy (Lafferty 92); Patching (Thomson 69); McGonigle (Akintunde 69): Subs Not Used - Lemoignan, Diallo, B. Kavanagh, Glass, McEneff.

Sligo Rovers: McNicholas; Banks, Pijnaker, Blayney, Kirk; Liivak, Bolger (Morahan 63), Burton (Cawley 92), Fitzgerald; McDonnell (Mata 63); Keena; Subs Not Used - Walshe, Horgan, Evans, Barlow, Clancy.

Referee - Rob Harvey (Dublin).