Elding goal gives Rovers first win
Champions Sligo Rovers produced a workmanlike display to deservedly claim all three points with a 1-0 win at Derry City.
Striker Anthony Elding's first half goal was enough for Ian Baraclough's men, who in truth never came under too much pressure until Derry brought on Michael Rafter. The Candy Stripes were dealt a massive blow just before kick-off with the news that fans’ favourite Stewart Greacen would be out of action for a number of months after the big centre-back suffered a serious knee injury during Monday night's Setanta Sports Cup tie with Drogheda United.
As for champions Sligo, they are still without talented striker Danny North, while Danny Ventre also missed out, however they gave duo Evan McMillan and Anthony Elding league debuts, with striker Elding coming into the game fresh from scoring a brace against Glentoran on Monday evening.
A fantastic pass by David Cawley released Raffael Cretaro who ghosted in behind left-back Barry McNamee, before setting up Elding who had the easy task of side footing home past Derry keeper Gerard Doherty on 31 minutes.
The home side replaced Crawley minutes after the restart with Rafter, as they looked get a foothold in the game. However it was Sligo went close again on 55 minutes when a Ross Gaynor right wing corner was fizzed into the front post, but the diving Gavin Peers, who got away from his marker, couldn't keep his header down when well placed.
Soon after, a fantastic pass by Ruaidhri Higgins released susbstitute Mark Griffin, but with only Rovers keeper Gary Rogers to beat, the former Dundalk man's tame attempted chip was well off target. Derry felt they should have been awarded a penalty on 72 minutes when Michael Rafter looked to have been brought down inside the box by Rogers, but referee Neil Doyle didn't point to the spot, in fact he awarded the home side a corner, much to Derry’s frustration.
The visitors were inches away from doubling their lead when David Cawley's drive from fully 25 yards, which had beaten Doherty, came back off the bar.
On 85 minutes the home side went close to levelling things when Patrick McEleney's pass found Simon Madden and his deep cross found substitute Ryan Curran, but the young front man's header was easily saved by Rogers. In the closing minutes, Derry’s Barry Molloy had a header cleared off the line by Evan McMillan after Patrick McEleney's cross had caught out Rogers.
Then, from Barry McNamee's resulting corner, subtitute Kieran Djilali did well to clear the ball as it was bounced around in the six yard box. But champions Sligo held on for the opening-day win.
Derry City: Doherty, Madden, S McEleney, McBride, Crawley; P McEleney, Higgins, Molloy, Patterson, B McNamee; Griffin.
Subs: Rafter for Crawley (51); R Curran for Griffin (80).
Sligo Rovers: Rogers, Keane, Peers, McMillian, Gaynor; Creatro, Ndo, Cawley, Conneely, Connolly; Elding.
Subs: Djilali for Connolly (70); Millien for Cretaro (80).