Sligo Rovers' Kailin Barlow celebrates his side's goal. Evan Logan/INPHO

Sligo win back-to-back games for first time to heap misery on Derry

Stefan Radosavljevic’s second-half goal gave the hosts all three points after Ronan Boyce was sent off for visitors.
Sligo Rovers 1
Derry City 0

Jessica Farry reports from The Showgrounds

SLIGO ROVERS WON back-to-back games for the first time this season as Derry City failed to take advantage of Shamrock Rovers only managing a draw against bottom side UCD.

Stefan Radosavljevic’s second half goal gave the hosts all three points after Derry City were reduced to ten when Ronan Boyce received a second yellow card.

It means Derry are now five points behind Stephen Bradley’s side who are now five points clear at the top of the table.

Sligo Rovers move nine points clear of Cork City, who have a game in hand, with John Russell’s side likely to be safe having picked up back to back wins for the first time this season.

The Candystripes were still four points behind league leaders Shamrock Rovers coming into tonight’s game, having drawn with the Hoops on their last day out.

It means Ruaidhri Higgins’ side have a lot of work to do if they are to win the title, and they will likely need to win every game until the end of the season with the Hoops dropping points along the way.

Their opponents Sligo put daylight between themselves in eighth and Cork City in ninth with a win over bottom side UCD last week, but City still have a game in hand so the Bit O’Red are not safe quite yet.

Derry City’s last win at The Showgrounds was in 2021, and they travelled to Sligo on Friday night knowing that they would need to put an end to that run to keep up their title challenge.

In what was a cagey opening to the half, it was 30 minutes before the game’s first shot on target.

Paul Mullen’s effort from the right forced Richard Brush into action, and seconds later he skewed his effort wide from Ronan Boyce’s ball.

The hosts really didn’t trouble Brian Maher in the Derry goals, Johan Brannefalk’s ball from the right was too heavy for Pedro Martelo to get onto in front of goal.

Brush had to rush off his line after the restart to get in the way as Paul McMullan charged forward.

Reece Hutchinson picked out Portuguese striker Pedro Martelo inside the box, but Brian Maher comfortably gathered the shot.

Ruaidhri Higgins’ side started to create more chances, with the duo of Paul McMullan and Danny Mullen causing problems for the home defence.

McMullan’s cross was controlled by Mullen before the 28-year-old turned and unleashed a powerful effort, with Brush stretching to keep it out.

Danny Mullen couldn’t keep his effort down seconds later, before the home side enjoyed a good spell of possession.

In the best of their chances, Hutchinson laid the ball off nicely for the Martelo, but the 21-year-old pulled it wide of Maher’s post.

Greg Bolger came close on a couple of changes as the hosts dominated, but Maher was comfortable.

The visitors felt they should have had a penalty on 72 minutes when Brush clattered into Cian Kavanagh inside the box as he ran onto a dangerous ball forward, but referee Rob Harvey wasn’t swayed by the protests of the visitors.

With Shamrock Rovers struggling to go ahead against UCD, a win for Derry would be huge, bringing them to within two points of the league leaders.

But, their task became harder in the 79th minute when Ronan Boyce was sent off for two yellow cards, his second for trying to stop a quick Sligo Rovers throw.

And it got even worse for Derry with six minutes to go.

A cross from Reece Hutchinson was bundled over the line by Stefan Radosavljevic, leading to furious protests from the visitors who felt the Faroese international handled the ball in the process.

The officials didn’t see it that way. and Brian Maher picked up a yellow card for his protests.

Radosavljevic almost added a second shortly afterwards, but couldn’t keep it on target.

With five games to go, Derry are five points off the league leaders, while Sligo Rovers are nine ahead of Cork City in ninth.

Sligo Rovers: Richard Brush, Niall Morahan (Stefan Radosavljevic, 78), Garry Buckley, John Mahon (Nando Pijnaker, 46), Reece Hutchinson, Johan Brannefalk (Frank Liivak, 55), David Cawley, Greg Bolger (Lukas Browning, 78), Robbie Burton (Kailin Barlow, 63), Karl O’Sullivan, Pedro Martelo.

Derry City: Brian Maher, Ronan Boyce, Ciaran Coll, Cameron McJannet, Ben Doherty, Will Patching, Sadou Diallo (Cameron Dummigan, 69), Michael Duffy, Danny Mullen (Cian Kavanagh, 69), Paul McMullen (Jordan McEneff, 83), Adam O’Reilly.

Referee: Rob Harvey.

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