Sligo Rovers continued on their journey in search of a first League of Ireland Premier Division title since 1977 last Friday at the Showgrounds with a 1-1 draw with Derry City.
Rovers came into the game with intentions of equalling a club record of eleven straight league home wins. Incidentally, it was Derry City who were the last team to avoid defeat at the Showgrounds last September.
Rovers spent large parts of Friday’s game on the attack, but Derry always looked dangerous on the counter. Danny North gave the Bit o’Red the lead on 25 minutes, when he was first to the ball at the back post after Gerard Doherty spilled Alan Keane’s initial shot.
Derry equalised 11 minutes later through David McDaid’s well struck penalty after Simon Madden was brought down by Iarfhlaith Davoren.
In a first half where chances were at a premium, the first hint of an opener came on 21 minutes when Joseph Ndo’s corner evaded a crowd of Rovers players in the six yard box, the ball needing only a touch to turn it towards goal,. The opener did come on 25 minute when Derry keeper Gerard Doherty spilled Alan Keane’s shot, the ball falling to Danny North, who muscled off his marker to blast home.
City equalised 11 minutes later when referee Richie Winter deemed Iarfhlaith Davoren to have upended Simon Madden in the penalty area. McDaid did the honours, driving the ball into Gary Rogers’ top corner.
Patrick McEleney almost put Derry ahead early in the second half when his ferocious volley rattled the Sligo crossbar on 49 minutes. Sligo spent the majority of the second period camped in Derry’s half, but couldn’t find that elusive winner. Lee Lynch and Raffaele Cretaro went closest for Sligo but Doherty was equal to each of their attempts.
Sligo boss Ian Baraclough was pleased that his side continued on their unbeaten run: “Tonight was a night where we could easily have been beaten. To come away with a point with a bit of character and resilience got us a point that maybe Derry will say we didn’t deserve. But I think even though we weren’t at our best, we keep the momentum going.”
When asked about referee Richie Winter’s decision to award Derry a penalty, Baraclough was not totally in agreement with the Dublin official: “I don’t think it was a penalty having seen it again on the television, which obviously the referee doesn’t have the luxury of. The officials have different angles to us and some get right and some get it wrong, but in my opinion it wasn’t a penalty.”
Rovers next league outing is a trip to Turner’s Cross to face Cork City. The Rebels have experienced a difficult start to their campaign, but breathed new life into their season last Friday with a 6-0 win over Monaghan United. Next Monday, Sligo will seek to over-turn a two goal deficit in the second leg of the Setanta Cup against Crusaders in the Showgrounds.