Derry City Under-19s suffered defeat in their latest SSE Airtricity Northern Elite Division fixture, going down 2-1 to a strong Sligo Rovers side at the Sean Fallon Centre on Sunday afternoon.
The home side struck twice in five second-half minutes with efforts by Liam Hughes and Fintan Boroto to close the gap on leaders Bohemians to two points.
City were missing their influential captain Sam Todd but were boosted by the return from injury of Republic of Ireland schoolboy international Connor Gormley. The Candy Stipes also gave a full debut to former Dungloe Town and Keadue Rovers defender Calum Boyle.
The first half hour was a tight affair with both sides trading half chances but Derry dominated the final fifteen minutes and really should’ve taken a lead into the half time interval.
After receiving possession from Stephen Duffy 30 yards from goal, Ramelton man Shane McNamee held off a challenge from two defenders before cutting inside and unleashing a powerful shot which bounced in front of the diving Sligo keeper McGinty before rebounding back off the post.
Three minutes later City striker Sean McBride capitalised on a poor back pass. The Ballybofey man showed great tenacity to win a 50-50 challenge with the outrushing keeper, the ball fell kindly for the 18-year-old but his shot hit the chest of a covering defender, which was a real let off for the Bit O’Red.
City continued to pose a strong attacking threat with a good intensity to their play which drew some complimentary comments from Republic of Ireland Under-19 manager Tom Mohan, who was keeping a keen eye on proceedings from the sidelines.
Moments before the half time whistle, McNamee made another surging run from his deep-lying playmaker role. After some good work from the inventive Ronan Wilson, McNamee showed superb technique to beat one then two Sligo players before firing a stinging left-footed drive which McGinty did well to get down and turn round the post.
The woodwork came to the away side’s rescue on 48 minutes when Mark Birrane’s attempted lob deflected off City keeper McElhinney and bounced against the post. City responded well when Wilson found McBride unmarked twelve yards from goal but his shot from point-blank range was parried by the Sligo shot stopper.
The Candy Stripes were made to rue those missed chances as Sligo made the most of the let offs and took control of the game with two goals in the space of five minutes.
The opening goal came on the hour mark when Marc Walsh broke clear down the left before delivering a beautifully weighted cross to the back post and Liam Hughes was on hand to head home past City goalkeeper McElhinney.
Derry’s weakness in the air was exposed again when Sligo doubled their advantage on 65 minutes. From a free kick just inside the Rovers half, keeper McGinty launched a high ball into the penalty area and Fintan Boroto out jumped the City defence to power a header into the far corner.
City went to a back three for the final fifteen minutes and did manage to reduce the deficit on 79 minutes. A forward pass from substitute Farren was flicked on by Delap to send Sean McBride clear. Without taking a touch to control, the former Cappry Rovers striker put the laces through a sweetly struck drive that powered over McGinty and into the top corner to score his tenth goal in seven games.
This result means Derry drop from third to fifth in the table and out of the top four places, which secures qualification for the quarter-finals of the National League.
The under-19s are back in league action this Saturday afternoon when they travel to Oriel Park to take on fourth placed Dundalk.
Derry City U19s: Mark McElhinney; Noel Doherty, Connor Gormley, Lee McColgan, Calum Boyle; Adrian Delap, Shane McNamee, Evan Tweed, Ronan Wilson; Stephen Duffy, Sean McBride.
Subs Used: Matthew Duffy, Rhys McDermott, Cathal Farren.