Sligo Rovers extended their lead at the top of the Airtricity Premier Division as Mark Quigley snatched a late winner against a battling Derry City at the Brandywell on Friday evening.
In a fairly evenly contested game, it was Sligo’s experience that told in the end as the young Derry side were finally broken down with just four minutes remaining on the clock.
It looked like a good game was on the cards as both sides clearly came out with attacking intentions and as early as the fourth minute, a glancing Mark Quigley header from a Ross Gaynor corner crept just wide of Gerard Doherty’s upright. In the 13th minute Rafael Cretaro went down in the box and a huge penalty appeal went up, but Damien Hancock got it spot on when waving the Sligo players away.
There seemed to be a bit of needle between the two teams and in the 24th minute Owen Morrison was first in the book as he took down Danny Ventre. Three minutes later a short Sligo corner was taken and Ross Gaynor ghosted past McCaffrey and his shot from an acute angle shaved the outside of the post.
In the 38th minute Patrick McEleney played through debutant Conor Murphy but his shot was well deflected out for a corner. Shortly afterwards Alan Keane sustained an injury and was replaced by Seamus Conneely. On the stroke of half time Derry carved out their best chance when Dermot McCaffrey swung in a cross but Ryan McBride’s powerful header was just the wrong side of the bar.
The second half began much more up tempo and in the 49th minute Conor Murphy was one on one with Rogers but the Sligo keeper managed to clear his lines. In the 52nd minute a powerful drive from Mark Quigley brought out as good a save as you'll see as Doherty tipped it over the bar.
Sligo were starting to dominate the midfield and in the 55th minute David Cawley picked the ball up 25 yards out before unleashing a pile-driver of a shot which nearly burst the back of the net. A magnificent strike.
Derry were stung into action and there followed a period of some end to end action as they tried to get back into the game. And in the 65th minute the equaliser duly arrived. A nice bit of inter passing between Morrison and Murphy ended up with Murphy making a defence splitting pass which Davy McDaid chipped over Rogers to level the scores.
At this point the game was very open and there was some great individual performances from Pat McEleney and Owen Morrison for Derry and Mark Quigley and substitute Pascal Millien for the Bit O' Red. In the 86th minute Derry hearts were finally broken as good work from Millien and Conneely on the right ended up with the ball reaching Quigley in the six yard box and the mercurial striker made no mistake when blasting past a helpless Doherty.
Derry seemed out for the count and Sligo finished the game the stronger side. Manager Ian Barraclough will be delighted with the away win, but Declan Devine can take plenty of heart from the efforts of his young side as they held their own for most part with the league leaders.
Derry City: Gerard Doherty; Dermot McCaffrey, Shane McEleney, Ryan McBride, Eddie McCallion (Ryan Curran 89); Owen Morrison, Ruaidhri Higgins, Barry Molloy (c), Patrick McEleney; David McDaid, Conor Murphy (Marc Brolly 83).
Subs not used: Eugene Ferry, Barry McNamee, Tony McNamee, Michael Barr, Michael Duffy.
Booked: Owen Morrison, Conor Murphy.
Sligo Rovers: Gary Rogers; Alan Keane (Seamus Conneely 41), Gavin Peers, Jason McGuinness, Ross Gaynor; David Cawley, Danny Ventre (c) (John Dillon 85), Joseph Ndo, Romauld Boco; Mark Quigley, Rafael Cretaro (Pascal Millien 73).
Subs not used: Richard Brush, Iarfhlaith Davoren, Jeff Henderson, Lee Lynch.
Booked: Boco, Ventre, Peers, Cawley.
Referee: Damien Hancock.
Attendance: 1,100 (estimate).
ExtraTime.ie Man of the Match: Mark Quigley.