Goals from Kealan Dillon, Sean Brennan, Ciaran Kelly and Lee Duffy saw Drogheda United ease to a 4-1 victory in Friday evening’s friendly against Derry City despite Ronan Hale’s goal.
Drogheda started off on the front foot with Jake Hyland having the first chance of the game just a minute in, firing over the bar from around 15 yards.
It was the Boynesiders who took the lead on four minutes, in spectacular fashion. Similar to his teammate Lee Duffy against Dundalk last week, Kealan Dillon picked the ball up 25 yards out before firing a stunning effort into the top corner, leaving Eric Grimes with no chance.
The home side were looking dangerous, especially down the right but it was Derry who almost found the next goal on eight minutes.
The Candystripes hit Drogheda on the counter and looked to have equalised only for a backtracking Drogheda defender managing to clear the ball off the line.
Derry’s next chance came mid-way through the half as a free kick was floated into a crowded box. The ball was turned goalwards by a Derry head only for Paul Skinner to save superbly to his left to keep Drogheda in front.
It would prove to be a crucial save as Drogheda would double their lead just after the half an hour mark from the penalty spot.
Drogheda were awarded a penalty following a foul on Lee Duffy just inside the box and captain Sean Brennan stepped up to send Grimes the wrong way and double his side’s lead.
Derry did get a goal back six minutes before the break as Nicky Low picked the ball up in midfield. He drove forward, easily got to the byline past a number of Drogheda players before clipping the ball to the back post where Hale fired home from close range.
However, just a minute later, Drogheda regained their two goal lead as Sean Brennan’s free kick to the far post was met by a bullet header from Ciaran Kelly which flew into the bottom corner.
The first twenty-five minutes of the second half were largely uneventful, other than a tonne of substitutions. Kevin Farragher’s overhit backpass almost beat his own ‘keeper, Luca Gratzer, who just managed to clear the ball off the line.
Drogheda were still looking comfortable and remained the better side though and they found their fourth goal of the game with fifteen minutes left to play.
Substitute Stephen Meaney’s pressure on the Derry defence forced a mistake which saw the ball fall into the path of Duffy who kept his composure, rounded the goalkeeper and slotted home.
The strangest moment of the game came with twelve minutes to play. An incident, possibly off the ball, occurred on the far side of the pitch which lead to audible protests from some Drogheda players.
The linesman in front of the stand could then be heard telling the Derry bench that forward John Cofie had to come off the pitch – seemingly meaning, be substituted or be sent off.
However, Derry used all five outfield players who were on their bench, with goalkeeper Jason McCallion the only one remaining.
Therefore, a substitute wasn’t made, Cofie was sent off and Derry played out the remainder of the game with ten men.
The home side dominated the closing exchanges and Duffy thought he had scored his second and Drogheda’s fifth with seven minutes to play.
Meaney held up the ball brilliantly on the left, allowing his teammates to get forward. The ball found its way to Purdy who played a through ball to Duffy who lifted the ball over Grimes and into the net. However, the linesman’s had raised his flag to signal offside.
The final chance of the game came three minutes later with Duffy again at the centre of the action, linking up with Carroll on the right before beating his man and crossing low to Meaney who saw his flick hit the side netting.
Drogheda United: Paul Skinner (Luca Gratzer 60); Lloyd Buckley (James Carroll 72), Victor Ekanem (Luke Gallagher h/t), Kevin Farragher, Ciaran Kelly; Kealan Dillon (Luke Rossiter 60), Jake Hyland, Sean Brennan (c) (Richie Purdy 72); Lee Duffy, Chris Lyons (Stephen Meaney 60), Mark Doyle (Gareth McCaffrey 60).
Subs not used: Jamie Quinn (GK), Jordan Kelly.
Derry City: Eric Grimes; Aaron McEneff (Dapo Kayode HT), Darren Cole (Scott Whiteside HT), Eoin Toal, Ben Doherty; Jamie McDonagh (Chris Turner HT), Ronan Hale, Nicky Low, Rory Hale (Jamie McIntyre 61); Rory Patterson (Adrian Delap 61), John Cofie.
Unused Subs: Jason McCallion (GK).
Red Card: John Cofie (80).
Man of the Match: Lee Duffy (Drogheda United).
The latest @ETSportscast is now available. Our guests this week @NewportCounty @padraigamond21 & UL lecturer Deirdre O'Shea on the dangers of match fixing in sport in Ireland— Extratime.ie (@ExtratimeNews) January 31, 2018