Derry City 2, Sligo Rovers 1
BARRY McNamee netted his seventh goal of the season in the 77th minute to complete a spirited second half comeback against Sligo Rovers at Brandywell to clinch third spot for Derry City in their final home fixture of the 2016 campaign.
It was the third league game in succession the Candy Stripes have come from behind to secure three points as they moved SEVEN clear of fourth placed Shamrock Rovers with one game to go.
But they had to dig deep and despite an inspired display from Sligo keeper, Ciaran Nugent, Aaron McEneff’s stunning 25 yard strike cancelled out Pat McCann’s first half effort before McNamee prodded the ball home with 13 minutes on the clock to complete the turnaround.
City were first to test the keeper after two minutes when Ronan Curtis played Lukas Schubert into space on the right and he drove his shot towards the near post but it was parried behind by Ciaran Nugent.
Three minutes later and Sligo almost capitalised on a quick break when Kieran Sadlier slipped Philip Roberts through on goal and as Gerard Doherty advanced from his goal, the striker hit the underside of crossbar with a stunning strike.
Visiting keeper, Nugent was called into action twice in the space of 60 seconds. Firstly he did well to palm Aaron McEneff’s dipping 35 yard free-kick behind for a corner.
And Nugent was in the thick of the action again as Patterson laid the ball into the path of Curtis and the City striker’s low strike was saved brilliantly by the outstretched leg of the Sligo stopper.
Derry were inviting pressure and in the final minute of the first half Sligo took the lead. Gerard Doherty punched clear Craig Rodden’s cross but it fell kindly to McCann who lobbed his shot from 18 yards over a crowd of players and it nestled into the net,
Derry really should’ve been back on level terms three minutes after the restart when Schubert pulled the ball back to leading striker, Patterson but the normally prolific frontman somehow pulled his shot from 12 yards wide.
Nugent then bravely pushed Conor McCormack’s strike at point blank range over the crossbar as Sligo held on to their slender lead.
The Candy Stripes eventually, deservedly found the net on 63 minutes when McEneff picked up the ball 25 yards from goal and buried a stunning strike into the corner.
Patterson could have added a second moments later but sliced his shot from 10 yards wide of the far post.
Nugent produced a superb, acrobatic save to flick Patterson’s shot over the crossbar as Derry upped the tempo.
The Foylesiders then went in front with 13 minutes to go when McNamee drilled his shot into the net as Sligo failed to clear the danger to ensure Derry secured third place and ended their home campaign with victory.
Derry City - G. Doherty; C. McDermott (S. Whiteside 79), C. Castells, D. Jarvis; L. Schubert (N. Boyle 70), C. McNamee (B. Doherty 79), C. McCormack, A. McEneff, J. Daniels; R. Curtis, R. Patterson; S. Patton, K. Ward, G. McGlynn, B. Doherty, R. Holden, S. Whiteside.
Sligo Rovers - C. Nugent; G. Boylan, M. Leahy, G. Peers, R. Donelon (P. Doyle 84); P. McCann; D. Kearns, G. Boylan, C. Roddan, J. Russell (M. Place 75), K. Sadlier; P. Roberts; Subs Not Used - M. Schlingermann, A. Campion, J. Hunt, M. Hannon.
Referee - Raymond Matthews (Longford).