Lorcan Doherty/INPHO Jamie McGonigle scored in either half to give Derry a 2-0 win.
go fourth and conquer
McGonigle scores goal of the season contender to keep Derry's slim European hopes alive
The race for fourth place — which could yet be good enough for European qualification — goes down to the final day of the season.

Derry City 2-0 Sligo Rovers

Simon Collins reports from the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium

JAMIE MCGONIGLE’S SPECTACULAR brace kept alive Derry City’s slim hopes of qualifying for Europe as the Brandywell club signed off their home campaign with a precious win over Sligo Rovers.

The former Crusaders striker netted the opener with a stunning left foot volley into the far corner on 18 minutes in front of Derry’s biggest gate of the season with an estimated 3,700 in attendance.

With the game still in the balance with 15 minutes remaining, McGonigle fired past Sligo keeper Richard Brush with a blistering 20-yard volley to double Derry’s lead – a potential goal of the season contender.

It was a timely win for Derry who were without a win in four league matches but the result signalled the end of Sligo’s hopes of clinching second place. 

Ruaidhri Higgins’ side still have an outside chance of securing a European spot through fourth spot should St Pat’s defeat Bohemians in the FAI Cup Final at the end of the month.

The race for that fourth spot will now go down to the final game of the season when Derry travel to Dundalk and Bohs visit Sligo Rovers.

Derry began with intent and threatened the Sligo goal twice in the opening two minutes. Firstly McGonigle crossed towards Fitzgerald but his shot at the near post deflected behind for a corner. 

Moments later Fitzgerald crossed dangerously towards the back post where Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe rose above his marker but somehow headed his two yard effort wide of the post.

Sligo were let off the hook once again on 12 minutes when Danny Lafferty swung a cross into a crowded penalty area which had Brush scrambling but Fitzgerald headed over the bar.

The breakthrough finally arrived for the home side on 18 minutes when Joe Thomson played McGonigle into space inside the penalty area with a clever lobbed pass and the striker volleyed clinically into the far corner for his sixth goal of the season.

Ronan Boyce came so close to doubling Derry’s lead on 22 minutes but guided his right footed shot narrowly over the crossbar.

Derry overturned possession inside the Sligo half but Ciaron Harkin’s audacious lobbed effort from 40 yards sailed wide of the mark with Brush back-peddling. 

With six minutes to go Mark Byrne raced in behind the Derry defence on the right flank but his low strike was saved well by the alert Gartside who had raced off his line.

Gartside came to his side’s rescue once more on 43 minutes when Gary Buckley rose to meet a corner at the back post but the City keeper managed to get his hand to the ball and parried it clear.

McGonigle beat the offside trap and raced through on goal before chipping the advancing Brush from 10 yards but Lewis Banks did brilliantly to clear his goalbound effort off the line in the final minute of stoppage time.

Derry soaked up a period of sustained pressure from the visitors at the start of the second half. However, McGonigle came close to adding a second for the Candystripes on 57 minutes when his glancing header from Fitzgerald’s cross went the wrong side of the post.

Substitute Romeo Parkes almost made an instant impact from the bench as he rolled his marker inside the Derry penalty area

Straight up the other end McGonigle’s curling strike was cleared off the line at the near post after Brush was found in no man’s land inside the penalty box.

From the resultant corner, Eoin Toal’s volley at the back post was deflected over the bar by John Mahon on the goalline.

There were big claims for a penalty from the home support when Fitzgerald went down inside the box after a challenge from Niall Morahan on 65 minutes but referee Derek Tomney waved play on.

Ex-Derry City winger Walter Figueira fizzed a long range effort just wide of the upright on 73 minutes with the game still in the balance.

McGonigle then gave Derry breathing space with an exquisite volley from 20 yards to cap a wonderful individual display from the former Crusaders striker who joins Ronan Boyce on top of Derry’s goalscoring charts.

DERRY CITY: Gartside; Boyce, Toal, Coll, Lafferty; Harkin, Thomson, Fitzgerald (McLaughlin 88); McGonigle, Akintunde (Malone 76), Ogedi-Uzokwe.

SLIGO ROVERS: Brush, Banks, McCourt (Donelon 31), Morahan, De Vries (Heaney 85), Figueira, Byrne, McDonnell (Keogh 60), Martin, Buckley, Wright (Parkes 60).

Referee: Derek Tomney (Dublin).


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