The home side are currently enjoying a five-game unbeaten run. In competitive terms, that’s their best run since the end of the 2016 season.
Three draws and two wins have seen the Bit O’Red overtake Cork City and draw level on points with Waterford, who lie sixth in the league table.
If their season were to continue along the same lines, that might be considered about par for Liam Buckley’s first year at the helm. Sligo finished last season in seventh, well clear of relegation trouble but a ways off fourth and European considerations.
Buckley’s side have lost just three in their last 10, with the scalps of Shamrock Rovers and Dundalk being claimed along the way. Both of those wins came at the Showgrounds.
Goal scoring can be improved upon. An average of just one a game scored combined by an average concession of 1.25 goals per game means they can forget about the top half of the table unless these ratios improve.
In keeping with many in the division, Derry City have had an up-and-down season.
A run of four straight wins saw them move into potential title contention last month; in the last six games, Derry have won just once.
Three of their last six games were draws, registering scorelines of 2-2 vs Waterford, 2-2 vs Dundalk, and 1-1 against St Patrick’s Athletic last time out.
Home defeats to both Shamrock Rovers and Bohemians recently have been costly.
Their goal-scoring average of 1.5 per game, and concession average of 1.1, places them in fourth for goal difference, and crucially, fourth in the Premier Division table.
Sligo Rovers will likely make a fast start on Saturday evening.
They’ve hit the front first in each of their last three games. Spurred on by home support, Derry will do well to stymie Sligo initially.
Liam Buckley’s side can play it both ways. More and more they are finding their attacking patterns (seven scored in their last three). However, if required, they can use the busy Romeo Parkes as an outlet to relieve pressure.
Then there is their threat from set-pieces.
— Soccer Republic (@SoccRepublic) May 6, 2019
Jack Keaney had already beaten Gary Rogers with a deceptive 25-yarder at Oriel Park in the season opener. Derry City should be well aware of the danger he poses anywhere near the box.
Derry, while being able to find the back of the net, do lack a goalscorer. Eoghan Stokes has been leading the line and is the club’s joint-top scorer with three goals; he’s joined on three strikes by the club’s starting full-back Darren Cole.
Declan Devine’s team have had less than 50 per cent possession in three of their four league defeats this season.
A priority has been made by management to play with the ball on ground, and that would appear to be a prerequisite to their success.
Derry were comfortably the better side in a 2-0 win at the Brandywell in their first 2019 meeting in March.
Sligo emerged with the better head to head record last season. Three league wins to Derry’s one, with an aggregate of 7-3. The Candystripes secured a measure of revenge with a 1-0 win in the EA Sport League Cup.
Sligo have the most recent form and home advantage in their favour. Derry can point to their overall form this season, and their 2-0 win over the Bit O’Red the last time these two sides met just six weeks ago.
All things considered, this is a tricky betting proposition.
I fancy Sligo Rovers to play well and at least secure a point against Derry City.
I’d back them at 4/6 to win with a +1 goal handicap.
As a secondary bet, I see Sligo getting another fast start and winning the first half.
Half Time Result – Sligo Rovers at 3/1.