Gallant Rovers knocked out of EA Sports Cup

Rory Hale’s 25th minute strike means Derry City will face Cobh Ramblers in this year’s EA Sports Cup final after they beat Sligo Rovers at the Showgrounds.

City had their captain and goalkeeper Ger Doherty to thank as he pulled off a number of superb stops to deny Rovers on several occasions.

In search of their second win over the Candystripes in four days, Rovers turned down a great chance to go ahead on the quarter hour.

David Cawley and Kris Twardek combining down the right before the latter found Lewis Morrison in space in front of the goal. But the young Scot could only kick fresh-air.

City, who have won this competition a record ten times, hit the lead in impressive fashion on 25. Aaron Splaine taking a touch past John Mahon before the ball fell to Rory Hale who unleashed an unstoppable effort into the top corner of Mitchell Beeney’s goal.

Morrison went close again on 34 as, leaning back, he blasted over Mikey Drennan’s cross from the right.

Rovers then had Cawley to thank shortly after when he managed to get a foot in front of Dean Shiels’ shot just yards from goal.

City skipper Doherty denied Sligo an equaliser at the other end moments later.

Drennan looked favourite to convert Regan Donelon’s cross, only for the instant reactions of Doherty who tipped the former Shamrock Rovers man’s bullet header over his crossbar.

Rovers were aiming to reach their first league cup decider since they last won it in 2010.

Donelon almost had them level five minutes into the second half when he showed some neat close control at the edge of the box. The full back’s subsequent stab at goal whistling narrowly over the Derry crossbar.

Beeney was on hand to deny Ronan Hale just short of the hour.

While Doherty pulled off another great save when he push away Raff Cretaro’s effort on 68, which seemed to be sneaking in at the back post.

Beeney was at it again on 72 as he beat away Aaron McEneff’s low stinger.

Cretaro’s side volley bounced on the floor in front of him as it sailed over seven minutes from time. Sligo pushing hard for that elusive equaliser.

Cretaro thought he’d levelled proceedings two minutes from time. But that man Doherty somehow batted the veteran’s shot off his line after Cretaro got on the end of Drennan’s drilled ball across the face of goal.

Sligo Rovers: Mitchell Beeney; Kyle Callan-McFadden, John Mahon, Patrick McClean; Kris Twardek, Regan Donelon (Caolan McAleer 85); David Cawley, Rhys McCabe; Lewis Morrison (Raff Cretaro 59), Lee Lynch; Mikey Drennan.

Derry City: Ger Doherty; Conor McDermott (Aaron Delap 79), Dan Seaborne, Kevin McHattie, Ben Doherty; Ben Fisk (Sean McBride 90), Aaron Splaine, Aaron McEneff, Dean Shiels; Rory Hale; Ronan Hale.

Referee: Graham Kelly