Sligo Rovers overtook Derry City at the top of the Airtricity Premier Division following a 3-0 win over the Candystripes on Monday afternoon.
A first-half goal from Lee Lynch was added to by second-half goals from David Cawley and Ross Gaynor to comprehensively defeat ten-men Derry.
Ian Baraclough made two changes to his side that drew 1-1 with Shamrock Rovers on Friday night. Iarfhlaith Davoren and Ross Gaynor returned from suspension and took their places in the starting team, with Ryan Connolly dropping to the bench and Anthony Elding serving a suspension.
Declan Devine also made two changes from Friday night’s team that beat Limerick 2-1. Ruaidhri Higgins missed out completely whilst Michael Rafter had to settle for a place on the bench. Patrick McEleney took his place and Sean Houston slipping into the starting team.
With St. Patrick’s Athletic picking up three points earlier on in the day, there was added pressure on both sides. It was certainly a lively opening, and both teams were pressing early on. The visitors had the best of the chances as a poor clearance from Gary Rogers was picked up by Mark Griffin who slid it across the box past Joseph Ndo. Patrick McEleney picked up on the loose ball and gave it out left to Barry McNamee but his tame effort is cleared by Evan McMillan.
One of the talking points of the first-half was a possible penalty for Declan Devine’s men. Barry McNamee found himself one on one with Gary Rogers and went down in the box. Despite the strong protests from the visitors, McNamee was handed a yellow for simulation.
The Candystripes pushed forward as the half went on and continued to put pressure on the champions and were playing better football in the final third. Rovers were guilty of missing a number of glorious opportunities at the half way mark. The first was a superb effort from Lee Lynch which was forced away by Ger Doherty.
Minutes later, David Cawley could have put the Bit o’Red one up with a spectacular effort from a Pascal Millien knockdown. He hit it too hard though, and it was just over Ger Doherty’s goal.
The opener came on 38 minutes, after some great play from Ian Baraclough’s men. Gavin Peers slid it down the right for Alan Keane, who put it into the box for Pascal Millien and Lee Lynch. Lynch took it and smacked it into the net to put Rovers ahead.
The home side continued to threaten in the second-half, showing no signs of a let-off. Derry got a slice of luck as Aaron Greene rolled the ball towards the Derry goal past Ger Doherty. It trickled towards the goal and hit the post thanks to the finest of touches from Doherty.
All the Rovers pressure paid off soon after as they found themselves with a two-nil advantage on 53 minutes. The champions were playing excellent football and Lee Lynch took the ball down perfectly and played it out right to Pascal Millien. The Haitian international crossed it in for David Cawley to slip it in past Doherty.
The final nail in the coffin for Derry came on 68 minutes. David Cawley flew forward and tried to go around Shane McEleney but the Mayo man was taken down in the box, a penalty was awarded and McEleney was sent for an early shower. Former Drogheda man Ross Gaynor stepped up and scored the penalty to seal three points for the men in red.
Rovers had numerous chances towards the end to increase their lead even further but just couldn’t hit the back of the net. It was a deserved win for the Bit o’Red after an excellent game.
Sligo Rovers: Gary Rogers; Alan Keane, Gavin Peers, Evan McMillan, Iarfhlaith Davoren; Pascal Millien, Joseph Ndo, Lee Lynch (Danny Ventre, 73), David Cawley, Ross Gaynor (Liam Martin, 77); Aaron Greene.
Subs not used: Adam Murphy, Jeff Henderson, Kieran Djilali, Ryan Connolly, Raffaele Cretaro.
Bookings: E McMillan (49).
Derry City: Gerard Doherty; Simon Madden, Ryan McBride, Shane McEleney, Dermot McCaffrey; Barry McNamee, Barry Molloy, Patrick McEleney (Michael Duffy 62), Sean Houston (Ryan Curran 74), Mark Griffin (Michael Rafter 62); Rory Patterson.
Subs not used: James Gallagher, Stewart Greacen, Tony McNamee, Conall Kelly.
Bookings: B McNamee (20).
Sendings Off: S McEleney (67).
Referee: Dave McKeon.
extratime.ie Man of the Match: David Cawley (Sligo Rovers).