Derry City battled hard to earn a share of the spoils against Sligo Rovers on Friday night at the Ryan McBride Brandywell stadium (kick off 7.45 pm).
Top scorer in the premier league Max Mata gave Rovers the lead at the break, but Ciaran Coll’s late header earned the home side a deserved point.
But it is a worry for manager Ruaidhri Higgins is that for the second game in a row his players failed to really test the opposition’s goalkeeper.
The Candystripes will also be disappointed for the second week running the referee’s display played a major factor in the encounter, as referee Adriano Reale disallowed Jamie McGonigle’s early goal.
After the match, Higgins went to the referee’s room and told the City boss that he “got it completely wrong” in disallowing McGonigle’s goal.
City roared out of the blocks with left-back Ben Doherty racing into the box, before his centre was inches away from Ryan Graydon at the back post.
The home side went close again moments later as Ollie O’Neill’s left wing centre found Jamie McGonigle, but the striker blazed over from six yards.
The Brandywell rose in honour of former captain Ryan McBride, as his sixth anniversary occurs this weekend.
Derry thought they had taken a tenth-minute lead as McGonigle had fired home his second goal of the season, but incredibly referee Reale, had blown his whistle for an earlier incident and awarded Derry a free-kick some 25 yards from goal, much to the annoyance of the home side.
A superb passage of play on 24 minutes ended with Rovers breaking the deadlock against the run of play, as Reece Hutchinson’s lovely left wing cross found an unmarked Max Mata at the back post and he gleefully headed home his fifth goal of the campaign.
The visitors suffered an injury set-back just before the break when Johan Brannefalk had to be stretchered off and replaced by Karl O’Sullivan. City went close to equalising on 70 minutes as Graydon’s left wing cross found Ronan Boyce, but the full-back’s close range header, which had Rovers keeper Luke McNicholas beaten, landed on top of the net.
The Candystripes drew level on 81 minutes as Ben Doherty’s left wing corner found Ciaran Coll and the defender’s powerful header flew past McNicholas.
The Bit O’Red should have regained the lead soon after as Bogdan Vastsuk broke the offside trap, but with only City keeper Brian Maher to beat the Estonian fired wide from close range.
In the closing stages Rovers substitute Frank Liivak went close, but was saved by Maher.
Derry City: Brian Maher, Ronan Boyce (Cian Kavanagh 79), Shane McEleney (Evan McLaughlin 87), Ciaran Coll, Ben Doherty; Sadou Diallo, Patrick McEleney, Will Patching (Jordan McEneff 67); Ryan Graydon, Jamie McGonigle, Ollie O’Neill (Brandon Kavanagh 67).
Sligo Rovers: Luke McNicholas, Johan Brannefalk (Karl O’Sullivan 42 – Lukas Browning HT), John Mahon (Eanna Clancy HT), Nando Pijnaker, Reece Hutchinson; Greg Bolger, Niall Morahan (Frank Liivak 74), Bogdan Vastsuk (Kailian Barlow 84); Fabrice Hartmann, Max Mata, Will Fitzgerald,
Referee: Adriano Reale (Dublin).Tags: