Sligo Rovers took a giant leap towards claiming the Airtricity League Premier Division title as they defeated a lacklustre Derry side 4-1 at The Showgrounds on Saturday in front of a crowd of 4,083.
A first half own goal from Ryan McBride, goals either side of half-time from Raffaele Cretaro and a second half goal from Lee Lynch gave the league leaders a vital three points, despite a consolation goal from David McDaid.
Ian Baraclough made two changes to the side that drew 0-0 in Bray last weekend. Gavin Peers’ return from suspension meant Jeff Henderson dropped to the bench and Pascal Millien took his place in the starting eleven as David Cawley took his place on the bench.
Four changes were made to the Derry team that lost to UCD. Owen Morrison has left the club while Barry Molloy was suspended. Marc Brolly missed out and Shane McEleney was on the bench. Simon Madden returned from suspension and Patrick McEleney recovered from injury in time. Declan Devine brought in Ryan McBride and Kevin Deery.
It took just two minutes for Sligo to have their first opportunity of the game. A short corner taken by Joseph Ndo was given to Ross Gaynor and his cross was headed just wide by Jason McGuinness. Sligo certainly started as they meant to go on, and the visitors remained under pressure following the early threat.
The tricky Pascal Millien was causing the Candystripes all sorts of problems and he forced a corner when he dribbled through the Derry box past Stewart Greacen and Ryan McBride. The resulting corner led to the deadlock being broken.
Joseph Ndo’s corner was swung in and tapped into the net by Derry’s Ryan McBride who was under pressure from Sligo’s Gavin Peers. Confusion surrounded the goal scorer but an onslaught had begun.
Declan Devine’s men barely had time to settle down as Sligo looked to stretch their lead. Rovers were playing their signature attractive football and had the ball in the net again on 25 minutes but the linesman flagged for offside. Cretaro was not closed down by the Derry defence and he had time to shoot but Ger Doherty pushed the ball into the path of Ndo. The Cameroonian had it in the net but the flag was up.
Ian Baraclough’s men doubled their lead just ten minutes later. Stewart Greacan’s poor clearance was gifted to Raffaele Cretaro and the Tubbercurry man slotted home to make it 2-0.
Sligo’s purple patch continued into the second half and their third came twelve minutes after the restart. Joseph Ndo was at his best giving Lee Lynch an excellent ball. Former Drogheda man Lynch sent the ball to Cretaro who was under pressure from Greacen but calmly finished to make it 3-0.
It was mainly one-way traffic but the visitors did pull one goal back on 69 minutes through former Sligo man David McDaid. Ruaidhri Higgins’ ball through the Sligo defence made its way to McDaid who beat Gary Rogers in goal.
The Derry goal had no impact on the game as Sligo continued to press and threaten. Sligo’s fourth came on 76 minutes through Lee Lynch who finished excellently to add misery to the Derry defence.
The win puts Sligo eight points ahead of St. Patrick’s Athletic and they can win the league in Cork on Friday provided other results go their way.
Sligo Rovers: Gary Rogers; Seamus Conneely, Jason McGuinness, Gavin Peers, Ross Gaynor; Pascal Millien, Danny Ventre, Lee Lynch (David Cawley, 81), Joseph Ndo, Raffaele Cretaro (David Cawley, 81); Mark Quigley (Liam Buchanan, 68).
Subs not used: Richard Brush, Jeff Henderson, John Dillon, Martin Owens.
Derry City: Gerard Doherty; Simon Madden, Stewart Greacen (Shane McEleney, 74), Ryan McBride, Dermot McCaffrey; Patrick McEleney (Conor Murphy, 64), Kevin Deery (Ryan Curran, 83), Barry McNamee, Ruaidhri Higgins; David McDaid, Mark Farren.
Subs not used: Eugene Ferry, Caoimhinn Bonner, Michael Duffy.
Bookings: Higgins (23), Deery (39), McBride (45+1), McNamee (84).
Referee: Paul Tuite.
extratime.ie Man of the Match: Raffaele Cretaro (Sligo Rovers).