Report: Rovers 1-0 Derry City

Sligo Rovers welcomed current League of Ireland Men’s Premier Division leaders Derry City to The Showgrounds on Saturday night and a tight game ended in a big 1-0 win for John Russell’s side thanks to Will Fitzgerald’s early opening goal.

Max Mata returned for Rovers in attack after his recent injury and club Captain David Cawley captained the side in his first start of the season in midfield.

Stefan Radosavljevic and Johan Brannefalk dropped to the bench and Niall Morahan started at right back.

Rovers started the game on the front foot and Frank Liivak raced down the right hand side before standing a cross up to the back post. Derry defender Shane McEleney got a head on it but it fell to Will Fitzgerald who scored his first goal of the season, helped by a deflection of Cameron McJannet.

The visitors tried to get back into it and looked threatening through wingers Ryan Graydon and Michael Duffy however there were little or no chances created for the remainder of the half for either side and it went in at the break with the home side in front.

Nando Pijnaker had to be replaced by Brannefalk before half time having picked up a knock in the first half.

Ruaidhri Higgins made a change at half-time with John Joe O’ Neill replaced by Cian Kavanagh up front.

This helped the Candystripes as they looked to get the ball up to Kavanagh and play off him at every opportunity but Rovers were defending well through Morahan, who went into central defence after Pijnaker went off, and John Mahon who stood tall to everything Derry threw at him.

The game’s big talking point came on 64 minutes when Derry midfielder Sadou Diallo lunged in wrecklessly on Greg Bolger on the half-way line.

Referee Paul McLaughlin felt like it was only a yellow card offence when it could possibly have been a sending off.

John Mahon was booked for remonstrating with the referee in the aftermath of the tackle and it would come back to haunt him as McLaughlin sent him off ten minutes later, much to the surprise of everyone at The Showgrounds after it looked like Mahon himself was fouled when breaking forward with the ball by Ryan Graydon.

Daniel Lafferty was introduced late on for Rovers along with Lukas Browning as Derry threw everything forward.

There were chances on the break with Frank Liivak breaking into the area on 88 and 93 minutes respectively but he couldn’t quite score either time from a tight angle.

Five minutes of added time couldn’t bring an equaliser for the visitors and Rovers saw the game out for a valuable three points.

Next up is a trip to take on Bohemians on Friday night before a Bank Holiday Monday home game with Shamrock Rovers on Monday June 5th (6pm).