Derry City cut the gap to third placed Sligo Rovers to a single point courtesy of Ronan Boyce's 85th minute winner at the Showgrounds.

Ruaidhri Higgins' side hit the lead with a Joe Thomson stunner early on, while Sligo leveled the tie through Johnny Kenny late in the opening half.

But Boyce extended Sligo's run of straight defeats to seven, five minutes from time when he volleyed home for Derry's second win at the Sligo venue this year.

In search of their fourth win on the bounce, it was City who started this game in ideal fashion, taking the lead after ten minutes.

Danny Lafferty laying off a short free to Thomson who, running on to the ball, unleashed a thunderous effort which rocketed past Ed McGinty in the Sligo nets.

Without a win since late June and in torrid form recently, Rovers didn't allow heads to drop and battled their way back into this tie.

Kenny brought a save out of Nathan Gartside, while the City netminder got in front of a Walter Figueira after the former Derry attacker’s 40 yard run and resulting effort.

Kenny continued to be a focus of concern for the Candystripes rearguard and he went close, twice in quick succession.

The teen firing over from the left on 28 minutes. While he cut out Boyce’s poor back-pass, but in his efforts to create an angle, he allowed Gartside to steady himself before keeping Kenny out with a smart save.

Liam Buckley’s charges deservedly levelled proceedings three minutes from the interval.

Winger Mark Byrne looked favourite to tap home Lews Banks’ low cross, only for the Mayo man to miss-fire just yards from goal. Kenny however was on hand to pick up the loose ball and finish past Gartside for Sligo’s first league goal from play in almost two months.

Ex-Rovers man Junior missed a guilt edged chance at the start of the second period, when, in front of goal, he failed to convert Jamie McGonigle's cross from the left. While Byrne couldn't squeeze the ball beyond Gartside from an awkward angle at the opposite end after the Derry keeper went full stretch to keep out Kenny's looping header.

Derry missed another sitter on 70 minutes when McGonigle nodded Junior's cross on to the ground and wide of McGinty's goal as the game continued at a furious pace, with a winner possible at either end.

That deciding moment arrived on 85 minutes when Boyce blasted past McGinty with an impressive finish.

Sligo Rovers: Ed McGinty; Lewis Banks, Garry Buckley, John Mahon, Colm Horgan; Niall Morahan (Romeo Parkes 80), Adam McDonnell; Walter Figueira, Jordan Gibson, Mark Byrne (David Cawley 75); Johnny Kenny.

Derry City: Nathan Gartside; Ciaran Coll, Eoin Toal, Ronan Boyce; Jack Malone (Darren Cole 89), Danny Lafferty; Joe Thomson, Evan McLaughlin (Bastien Hery 61), Ciaron Harkin; Junior, Jamie McGonigle (Will Fitzgerald 70).

Referee: Neil Doyle.