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Sligo Rovers 2-2 Derry City

Updated: Friday, 13 Jun 2014 22:13 | Comments

Ryan McBride got Derry's first strike against Sligo
Ryan McBride got Derry's first strike against Sligo

Four first half goals saw Sligo Rovers and Derry City play out an enthralling 2-2 draw on Friday night during their SSE Airtricity League clash at the Showgrounds.

A stunning strike from John Russell on 16 minutes was followed up by a Ryan McBride equaliser four minutes later. Derry claimed the lead on 28 minutes courtesy of McBride's second, while Danny Ledwith levelled the game eleven minutes before the break.

Both sides had good chances to win the game at the death. City failed to capitalise on the dismissal of Eric Odhiambo on 71 minutes, who was red carded by referee Tomas Connolly for a high challenge on Cliff Byrne.

Rovers went into this mid-table tie without a host of key players as their injury-ravaged season continues. Gavin Peers (knee), Joseph Ndo (calf), Jeff Henderson (bruised foot), Alan Keane (thigh), Kieran Djilali (knee) and Aaron Greene (ankle) all missed out. 

Manager Ian Baraclough was however buoyed by the return of midfielder David Cawley, making three changes from the side who were beaten by Dundalk last week. Raffaele Cretaro and Seamus Conneely joining Cawley in the starting eleven. 

Derry supremo Peter Hutton made two changes to the side which progressed past Cobh in the FAI Cup last week. Mark Timlin and the influential Cliff Byrne returning to the side. 

The Candystripes had already recorded two wins over their north western rivals this campaign under the previous leadership of Roddy Collins. And it was the away side who threatened first, although Gary Rogers dealt comfortably with Patrick McEleneny's shot from distance on a greasy Sligo surface with ten played. 

Sligo looked dangerous when they broke during the opening stages but City did just enough to keep them at bay during the early stages. 

But there was very little Ger Doherty could do about the opener on 16 minutes. Receiving the ball from Paul O'Conor inside the Derry half, Russell strode forward and unleashed an unstoppable drive from 30 yards which even at full stretch, Doherty had little chance of covering. 

Sligo's lead didn't last long, however, as they failed to properly clear Michael Duffy's 20th-minute corner. The ball was recycled back into the danger area where the brave McBride - who injured himself in the process - did just enough to get his head behind the ball, as it looped over Rogers and into the net. Rovers' lead lasting only four minutes. 

Derry turned the game on its head on 28 as once again, Rovers hesitated from a set piece. Patrick McEleney's corner was not cleanly claimed by Rogers. Sligo were unable to clear the ball, before McBride blasted his effort through a crowd of players to claim his brace. 

The avalanche of goals continued on 34. Duffy lost his footing as he attempted to cut out Danny North's crossfield ball. Danny Ledwith took full advantage of the mistake as he rounded his marker and placed the ball past Doherty to level the game at 2-2. 

Rogers did well to deny City a half-time lead a minute from the break as he got down to his right to block Timlin's drive from the edge of the box. 

Evan McMillan failed to get the necessary trajectory behind his header after he latched on to the end of a Danny North free kick five minutes after the break. Timlin saw his low drive from close range pushed away by Rogers four minutes later. 

Aaron Barry almost nodded the Candystripes back into the lead on 65. McMillan upended Patterson before McEleney's resulting free-kick was met by the head of Barry, who was unlucky to see his dipping header squeeze past the far post. 

The FAI and Setanta Sports Cup holders were reduced to ten men on 71 minutes as substitute Eric Odhiambo, only five minutes on the field, was dismissed for a high challenge on Byrne. 

Byrne himself was unfortunate to see his neat flick from an awkward angle hit the side netting on 75 as Derry looked to capitalise on their numerical advantage. 

Rogers had to be alert once more to divert away substitute Ryan Curran's shot from inside the area with nine minutes remaining. The Meath man was then forced to expertly tip away Patterson's well hit volley moments later. 

Both sides squandered golden opportunities to steal the three points at the death. 

Nathan Boyle's lengthy run down the right resulted in a pin-point cross to the unmarked McNamee at the back post, but the midfielder failed to get his headed effort on target. Seconds later, it was John Russell's mazy dribble which brought him around McBride but the Galway native couldn't direct his effort inside Doherty's far post.

Sligo Rovers: Gary Rogers; Seamus Conneely, Evan McMillan, Kalen Spillane, Ross Gaynor; Raffaele Cretaro, David Cawley, Paul O'Conor (for Eric Odhiambo 66), John Russell, Danny Ledwith; Danny North (for Sean Maguire 85). 

Subs not used: Richard Brush.

Derry City: Ger Doherty; Barry Molloy, Cliff Byrne, Ryan McBride, Aaron Barry; Patrick McEleney, Danny Ventre, Barry McNamee, Michael Duffy, Mark Timlin (for Ryan Curran 70); Rory Patterson (for Nathan Boyle 87). 

Subs not used: Ciaran Gallagher, Dean Jarvis, Shane McEleney, Josh Tracey, Tony McNamee. 

Referee: Tomas Connolly.

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