Sligo Rovers continued their unbeaten run with a 1-1 draw with Derry City at The Showgrounds on Friday evening to remain top of the table, though they didn’t have it all their own way against the Candystripes.
A first-half Danny North goal had put the home team into the lead but that was cancelled out by a David McDaid penalty in what was, overall, a disappointing game.
The opening was quite lively however, and there were plenty of early opportunities. Derry’s first chance came from a Patrick McEleney ball to Mark Farren which Gary Rogers was able to get to easily, while Declan Devine’s men were doing well at the back keeping Sligo out and Farren, in particular, was causing plenty of trouble up front.
Nonetheless, Rovers did open the scoring on 24 minutes through in-form striker Danny North. Defender Alan Keane crossed the ball from the right to North who was sitting right in front of goal to net his sixth in five games.
Just minutes after the opener, Rovers could easily have doubled their lead. A lovely one-two between Romauld Boco and North played the latter in but his strike at goal was feeble.
Derry were sprung into life after conceding and Rovers keeper Gary Rogers was forced to pull off a great save from a David McDaid effort after he took the ball down on the edge of the box and struck well.
City were awarded a penalty on 35 minutes after Simon Madden was needlessly pushed over in the box by Iarfhlaith Davoren, despite the Tullamore man’s protest and former Sligo Rovers man David McDaid stepped up and equalised with an excellent penalty.
A fantastic Patrick McEleney ball into the Sligo box was met by Farren but he could not get his header on target and sent it just wide of the post.
Following that, a headed clearance from Jason McGuinness fell perfectly for the Derry youngster Patrick McEleney who rattled the Sligo crossbar early in the second-half with a fantastic strike from outside the box.
North is always a danger up front and he went ever so close to netting again after he latched on to a Joseph Ndo corner but he hit it too high. Kevin Deery, who picked up a booking earlier in the second half, was lucky to stay on the pitch after he caught Cretaro badly.
The last ten minutes were nothing short of intense and both sides certainly had their opportunities. Lee Lynch lost the ball to Stephen McLaughlin who played in Rory Patterson. The substitute’s strike from the edge of the box was intercepted by Jason McGuinness and Kevin Deery’s shot then went out of play.
An excellent save from Ger Doherty kept his side in the game in the dying moments following a strong effort from Cretaro but it was soon full-time and both sides walked away with a deserved point each.
Sligo Rovers: Gary Rogers; Alan Keane, Jason McGuinness, Gavin Peers, Iarfhlaith Davoren; Lee Lynch, Joseph Ndo (John Dillon, 81), Danny Ventre (Ross Gaynor, 66), Romauld Boco (Mark Quigley,80); Raffaele Cretaro, Danny North.
Subs not used: Richard Brush, Martin Owens, Liam Martin, David Cawley.
Bookings: Peers (42).
Derry City: Gerard Doherty; Simon Madden, Ryan McBride, Eddie McCallion, Dermot McCaffrey; Patrick McEleney (Rory Patterson, 72 [Barry McNamee, 92]), Barry Molloy, Kevin Deery, Stephen McLaughlin; David McDaid, Mark Farren.
Subs not used: Eugene Ferry, Brian McGroary, Matthew Crossan, Michael Barr, Caoimhin Bonner.
Bookings: Madden (40), Deery (50), Farren (85).
Referee: Richie Winter.
ExtraTime.ie Man of the Match: Mark Farren (Derry City).