Cawley and Morrison on target as Rovers pick up first win in six
Derry City 0 Sligo Rovers 2
Sligo Rovers picked up their first league win since the last day of April with a commanding 2-0 win over a destitute Derry City at the Brandywell on Friday night.
A goal in each half from the magnificent David Cawley and 19-year-old Lewis Morrsion saw the Bit O'Red move two points clear of cash-strapped Limerick, who could only afford to draw with Bohs on the same night.
The result was also Rovers' third clean sheet on the bounce.
The fine performance was somewhat marred however, by the withdrawal of full-back Gary Boylan who was carried off on a stretcher 17 minutes into the game having picked up a knee injury.
Rovers were without top-scorer Adam Morgan, full back Regan Donelon and the suspended duo of Jack Keaney and John Mahon.
This meant manager Ger Lyttle had to call upon the talent of under 19 stars Ed McGinty, Niall Morohan, Darren Collins and Liam Kerrigan to fill the bench.
It was the away side who started this one on the front foot, pressing the Candystripes high up the pitch. Caolan McAleer's hopeful effort six minutes in, the best of the early chances, but the Tyrone man's strike was blocked down by Derry's Jack Doyle.
Kenny Shiels' men, who have struggled for form in recent weeks, finally settled in front of an agitated home support. Seamus Sharkey, who pulled out of the CONIFA World Cup to help ease Rovers' injury concerns, could only extend the reach of his clearance at the edge of the box as far as Ronan Hale.
But the Belfast man couldn't keep down his soaring volley.
The Derrymen shot another warning shot across the Sligo bow when full-back Conor McDermott sent his effort whistling across the face of goal on eight minutes.
Having calmed the storm, Rovers hit the lead in impressive fashion on eleven minutes.
Rhys McCabe's weighted, lofted ball over the Candystripes rearguard was perfect for Cawley to run on to, once he had sprung the offside trap.
Cawley showing a cool head as, one-on-one, he waited for Derry keeper Ger Doherty to commit, selling him a cheeky dummy before tapping the ball into an empty net for his 13th goal for the club.
Joy turned to concern just three minutes later when Boylan turned on his keen inside the box. The Mayo man leaving the pitch via a stretcher after four minutes of treatment.
His replacement played a crucial part in Rovers' next chance which really should have seen Ger Lyttle's men extend their lead.
Showing all the experience and craft of the seasoned campaigner he is, Raff Cretaro stole a few extra steps on a throw-in inside his own half to find the run of Adam Wixted.
Cutting inside, Wixted's cross found Morrison who could only blaze over from a goal-scoring position with the goal at his mercy.
Wixted skied his volley on the half-hour as Rovers remained in control of proceedings.
Beeney was comfortable with Hale's volley eleven minutes from the break, while Sharkey, unmarked in front of goal, nodded McCabe's cross over Doherty's goal just moments before the interval.
On a warm evening by the Foyle, the second half lacked the pace the intensity of its predecessor, much to Rovers' advantage.
But Derry did go close to levelling proceedings just two minutes in. Gavin Peers' header from a corner was awkwardly struck, but still had to be diverted away from goal by a quick thinking Rovers player at the back post.
Once more, a Derry chance lead to a goal at the opposite end.
The expeditious McAleer finding room behind McDermott before crossing for Morrison who, without attention from an opposition defender, swept the ball, first time past the beleaguered Doherty from 15 yards out for his first senior career goal.
Rovers tightened their grip on this game as a dilapidated Derry stared their second straight defeat square in the face.
With three players to choose from, McAleer instead fired straight at Doherty from the angle 50 minutes in. While Wixted might have made it three as many minutes later but Doherty's strong palm denied the former Drogheda winger.
The Showgrounds men did have net minder to thank soon after when at full stretch, Beeney pushed away Ben Doherty's attempted drive into the opposite corner of the Sligo net.
But the introduction of Eduardo Pinceli and some neat patterns of play saw Rovers retain possession in impressive fashion, slowing down play and not allowing a conceded Derry the ball, in front of a frustrated home crowd.
Substitute Greg Moorhouse came within a lick of paint of compounding that misery in injury time.
Cawley's authoritative challenge stopping Aaron McEneff in his tracks, before he found midfield partner McCabe.
The Scot's through ball playing in Moorhouse, who was unable to deliver the necessary bend to plant the ball into the far corner.
His side-foot instead touching the post on its way out.
Derry City: Ger Doherty; Conor McDermott (Jamie McDonagh 64), Gavin Peers, Darren Cole, Jack Doyle (Eoin Toal 81); Rory Hale, Aaron McEneff, Nicky Low; Ben Doherty, Ronan Curtis, Ronan Hale.
Sligo Rovers: Mitchell Beeney, Gary Boylan (Raffaele Cretaro 17), Kyle Callan-McFadden, Seamus Sharkey, Patrick McClean; Rhys McCabe, David Cawley; Caolan McAleer, Ali Roy (Greg Moorhouse 62), Adam Wixted; Lewis Morrison (Eduardo Pinceli 69).
Referee: Damien McGraith.