By Alex Dunne at Richmond Park
St. Patrick's Athletic claimed their first win in nine games after a late Graham Kelly goal gave them a 2-1 victory over Derry City in the SSE Airtricity League at Richmond Park on Friday night.
In a game controlled by the home side, they were left to rue a number of great first half chances going begging and penalty appeals being turned down when a late first half Ronan Curtis header gave Derry the lead on the stroke of half time.
However a second half resurgence, led by a Kurtis Byrne penalty and Kelly's 77th minute winner, secured a vital three points for the Saints to lift them out of the relegation zone for the time being.
The first chance of the game fell Derry's way when Lukas Schubert was played in by Barry McNamee, but the effort was cut out by Ian Bermingham.
Kurtis Byrne had a spectacular volleyed effort from a Conan Byrne corner flash just over with five minutes gone, which changed the game for Pat's as they began to dominate proceedings.
Christy Fagan and Billy Dennehy both had chances turned away due to pressure from Harry Monaghan, and Lee Desmond missed a header off a Dennehy corner from six yards out.
In the 20th minute a chance came along for Pat's when a lovely one-two between Bermingham and Dennehy sent in the Pat's captain. His mid-range cross found Graham Kelly unmarked from six yards out, but his header was straight into the waiting arms of Derry goalkeeper Gerard Doherty.
The miss seemed to buoy the visitors and McNamee, playing in a free role between the lines, began to link up well with Rory Paterson up front.
The two set up chances each for each other off good through balls in quick succession that required a clearance off the line by Michael Barker and poor finishing on McNamee's part to deny Derry a goal.
Fagan had another great chance from the right hand side in the 32nd minute but he struck the side netting, before Schubert set up Monaghan down the other end which drew an outstanding save from Conor O'Malley, diving under the ball and flicking his left hand up to tip it onto the crossbar.
With the game on a knife edge it was Derry who eventually struck first, as Ronan Curtis got free from a Nicky Low corner and sent in a looping header from 18 yards which left O'Malley helpless to save.
McNamee got off to a good start to the second half working O'Malley well with a driven effort from range, before Jordi Balk, who had a shaky first half, played a brilliant ball into Billy Dennehy, but he fluffed the chance.
Killian Brennan was worryingly withdrawn in the 56th minute with a knee injury, before another great opportunity presented itself to Fagan to level in the 61st minute, but his close range effort was cleared off the line by Ben Doherty.
Pat's had a big shout for a spot kick from a questionable handball but did win a penalty a minute later when Rory Feely was held back by Darren Cole.
Kurtis Byrne struck it home into the top right hand corner to level the scores in the 67th minute.
The momentum was now firmly back with the home side, Dennehy rushed in on the 72nd minute mark but blasted yet another good chance wide.
The game looked destined for a draw before, with 13 minutes to go, a cross-field ball from Feely found Conan Byrne, and with a beautiful flick beyond Dean Jarvis he fired in a low cross that was hammered home first time by Graham Kelly.
A pulsating last ten minutes saw the game descend into a scrappy affair, with Derry rushing for an equaliser, but Patterson's two big chances went wide and were ruled out for offside.
A late cross from McNamee deep into injury time was claimed strongly by the impressive O'Malley, and Pat's clung on to a vital victory.
ST. PATRICK'S ATHLETIC: Conor O'Malley; Michael Barker, Jordi Balk, Lee Desmond, Ian Bermingham; Conan Byrne, Killian Brennan (Rory Feely 56), Kurtis Byrne (Darragh Markey 83), Graham Kelly, Billy Dennehy; Christy Fagan (Josh O'Hanlon 90+1).
Subs Not Used: Conor O'Malley, Alex O'Hanlon, Stephen Grogan, JJ Lunney.
DERRY CITY: Gerard Doherty; Harry Monaghan, Ben Doherty (Rory Holden 68), Darren Cole, Dean Jarvis; Ronan Curtis (Josh Daniels 83), Aaron McEneff, Nicky Low, Lukas Schubert (Nathan Boyle 73; Barry McNamee, Rory Patterson.
Subs Not Used: Eric Grimes, Eoin Toal, Scott Whiteside, Mark Timlin.
Booked: Ben Doherty (45), Rory Patterson (62), Darren Cole (66), Ronan Curtis (76)
Referee: Rob Rogers
ExtraTime.ie Player of the Match: Kurtis Byrne (St. Patrick's Athletic)