Ten-man Derry fall to fateful Sligo defeat

Derry City and their manager Ruaidhi Higgins now sit five points behind league leaders Shamrock Rovers.
Derry City and their manager Ruaidhi Higgins now sit five points behind league leaders Shamrock Rovers. Derry City and their manager Ruaidhi Higgins now sit five points behind league leaders Shamrock Rovers.

SSE Airtricity League Premier Division

Sligo Rovers 1 Derry City 0

DERRY City’s title hopes look to be over as Sligo Rovers secured a shock home victory at the Showgrounds.

Stefan Radosavljevic’s controversial late goal sealed the points for the Bit O’Red and in truth they had the better chances in the disappointing affair, though Derry felt that the winning goal was handled into the net

With champions Shamrock Rovers only managing a goalless draw at bottom side UCD, Ruaidhri Higgins’ men missed a glorious chance to close the gap at the top of the table, but the Hoops incredibly moved a further point clear of the Brandwell men.

Not for the first time this season, the Candystripes struggled to penetrate in the final third for long periods and certainly didn’t play like a team challenging for the title.

City were forced into one change to the side which drew with champions Shamrock Rovers last Friday night, with Ciaran Coll replacing the suspended Shane McEleney.

The visitors created two chances in the space of a minute when, on 29 minutes, a slick counter ended with Will Patching feeding Daniel Mullen, but the striker’s angled effort from the right-hand side of the box was parried away by Rovers keeper Richard Brush.

Derry picked up the loose ball and came again, as this time Ronan Boyce’s right-wing centre found Mullen inside the box, but this time the ex-Dundee frontman fired wide when well placed inside the six-yard box.

Moments later, Rovers had a half-chance after a poor clearance by Ben Doherty fell just inside Derry’s penalty box to Greg Bolger, but the ex-Cork City man saw his left-footed volley flash well off target.

The home side started on the front foot in the second half as Reece Hutchinson broke clear down the left on 47 minutes before finding Pedro Martelo, but the Portuguese striker saw his left-footed strike from the edge of the box saved by Brian Maher.

Soon after, Derry themselves went close. Mullen’s shot on the turn from the edge of the box was bound for Brush’s bottom left-hand corner, but the former Cliftonville net-minder got down low to claw the effort away.

The Foylesiders had massive claims for a penalty on 72 minutes as substitute Cian Kavanagh was bundled to the ground by an out-rushing Brush, but referee Robert Harvey played on, much to the frustration of the visitors' bench, who were fuming that the Dubliner failed to award the spot-kick.

Derry were reduced to 10 men on 80 minutes as Ronan Boyce, who was cautioned in the first half, was booked for a second time after trying to win a free-kick just in front of his bench. Referee Rob Harvey felt he dived and showed him a second yellow card followed by a red.

Rovers broke the deadlock moments later as substitute Radosavljevic bundled the ball home from close range. The visitors were furious the goal was allowed to stand as they felt the Faroe Islands man had turned the ball home with his hand.

Sligo should have wrapped the points up in the closing stages as Radosavljevic from close range somehow side-footed over with the goal at his mercy.

Sligo Rovers Brush, Brannefalk (Liivak 56), Hutchinson, Bolger (Browning 79), Morahan (Radosavljevic 79), O’Sullivan, Mahon (Pijnaker HT), Cawley, Burton (Barlow 64), Buckley, Martelo

Derry City Maher, Boyce, Coll, McJannet, Doherty; Diallo (Dummigan 69), O’Reilly, Patching; McMullan (McEneff 83), Mullen (C Kavanagh 69), Doherty

Referee Rob Harvey (Dublin)