League Report: Derry City 1- 1 Sligo Rovers


Ben Doherty's corner kick was nodded home by Ciaran Coll as Derry City rescued a point against Sligo Rovers Credit: John-Paul McGinley (ETPhotos)

It was honours even at the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium in the clash between Derry City and Sligo Rovers asCiarán Coll's late header cancelled out Max Mata's opener early in the first half.


Following last weeked's goalless draw against Dundalk, the hosts saw winger Ollie O'Neill replace Jordan McEneff with Ronan Boyce recalled to their defence in place of the injured Mark Connolly. Prognosis on the Clonesman is still not clear after he pulled up during last week's encounter. For their part, Sligo arrived on Foyleside having scored late to rescue a point against Cork City- boss John Russell making a couple of changes with John Mahon and Vastusk taking the starting spots of Stefan Radosavljevic and Eanna Clancy. 


Mahon was centrally involved in the opening talking point as Derry were denied an early goal. Referee Adriano Reale blew for a foul on Ollie O’Neill seconds before Jamie McGonigle found the net from the loose ball. The home bench and supporters voiced their displeasure at the lack of an advantage, however the only booking resulted in Sligo centre half John Mahon receiving a yellow card.


The defender was a constant companion for McGonigle throughout the opening period and walked a tightrope with the referee- a handball on the edge of the Derry penalty area may have resulted in a second yellow under a different official.

Despite Derry narrowly having the balance of play, after 25 minutes it was the visitors who took the lead courtesy of their in from centre forward, fresh from a call up to the New Zealand senior side this week.The fleet footed Fabrice Hartmann created space in the midfield before the ball was slipped wide by Will Fitzgerald to overlapping full back Reece Hutchinson and his delicious cross was glanced to the net by the inrushing Max Mata for his fifth goal of the season.


The game was temporarily brought to a halt as the first half drew to a close to facilitate the replacement of the injured Johann Brannefalk- the Swede departing the action on a stretcher with what appeared to be a serious looking injury to his left leg.


The versatile former Limerick and Finn Harps wideman Karl O’Sullivan slotted in at right back where he was in direct opposition with Ollie O’Neill and the Republic of Ireland Under 21 cap was one of Derry’s most potent outlets in the first half though without forcing Luke McNicholas into a save of any real note. A collision between O’Neill and O’Sullivan saw the substitute receive treatment but returned to the action at the end of a 54 minute first half in which Derry racked up 7 corners without conceding one.  


The Candystripes’ dominance on this metric was furthered in the second half which opened with a flurry of corner kicks to the home side which yielded nothing- Luke McNicholas and his defenders dealing well with the threat of Will Patching’s set pieces.


With Mata having given the Bit O’Red the lead in the first hafl, the away side were thankful to a New Zealander at the other end of the field in the second period with Nando Pijnaker clearing off the line after Sadou Diallo’s searching ball found Patrick McEleney who shot goalwards, only to be denied by the Sligo centre half.  

Half time had seen John Russell forced into a couple of changes in the defence with Eanna Clancy and Lukas Browning replacing Mahon and Karl O’Sullivan respectively- the unfortunate O’Sullivan failing to recover from that knock he took at the end of the half.

Derry made a couple of substitutions themselves as they sought an equaliser with twenty minutes to go- Brandon Kavanagh and Jordan McEneff taking the places of Ben Doherty and Will Patching respectively. The replacements had barely broken a sweat before Derry’s best chance arose- a dinked left wing cross was nodded narrowly over the bar by the ever alert Jamie McGonigle.

Russell subsequntly reshuffled his pack to deal with the pace of Graydon, now relocated on the left hand side- the speedy Will Fitzgerald stationed at right back with Liivak in front of him.

Derry’s goal came from a set piece on that left hand side, with less than ten minutes to go- Ben Doherty’s outswinging corner was thumped to the net by the head of the leaping Ciaran Coll. However, the visitors almost responded immediately as Bogdan Vastsuk capitalised on Shane McEleney pulling up with an apparent hamstring injury to pierce a hole in the home defence.

Despite breaking clear the Estonian dragged his effort wide and the Candystripes escaped- McEleney however didn’t and he departed the action to be replaced by Evan McLaughlin, the second centre half Derry have now lost to a similar looking injury in the past two games and adding to an already crowded treatment room on the Lone Moor Road.

With seven minutes of injury time available, both sides sought a winner. For Sligo, Reece Hutchinson’s low drive was well held by Brian Maher after the full back cut inside to unleash a daisycutter. At the other end of the field, substitute Eanna Clancy thumped Jordan McEneff’s centre clear before his defensive partner Pijnaker nodded a dangerous centre away from the onrushing City attackers.

With the home side dominating possession and the visitors having the most clear cut chances, both John Russell and Ruaidhrí Higgins may feel frustrated at the result, however they both enter the international break with a pair of draws from their last two games.

Derry City: Brian Maher; Ronan Boyce (Cian Kavanagh 79), Ciaran Coll, Ben Doherty, Shane McEleney (Evan McLaughlin 87); Sadou Diallo, Ryan Graydon, Patrick McEleney, Oliver O'Neill (Brandon Kavanagh 67), Will Patching (Jordan McEneff 67); Jamie McGonigle.

Subs not used: Tadhg Ryan, Conor Barr, Liam Mullan, Matthew Ward, Sean Patton.

Booked: None.

Sent off: None.

Sligo Rovers: Luke McNicholas; Johan Brannefalk (Karl O'Sullivan 43), Reece Hutchinson, John Mahon (Éanna Clancy 46), Nando Pijnaker; Greg Bolger, William Fitzgerald, Fabrice Hartmann, Niall Morahan (Frank Liivak 74), Bogdan Vastsuk (Kailin Barlow 83); Max Mata.

Subs not used: Richard Brush, Daniel Lafferty, David Cawley, Stefan Radosavljevic.

Booked: John Mahon (11), Lukas Browning (62).

Sent off: None.

Referee: Adriano Reale

extratime.com Player of the Match: Nando Pijnaker