Derry City got back to winning ways on Friday evening as they added to UCD’s woes at a damp Belfield with a 1-0 victory. Stephen McLaughlin’s first half strike was enough to give the visitors all three points and close the gap on the top four.
The Candystripes had to play the last ten minutes with a man less after Simon Madden was sent off for a second bookable offence and despite a second half onslaught from Martin Russell’s side, it was the away side and their travelling fans who left happiest in the rain.
Despite the wintery weather conditions, the UCD Bowl pitch was in immaculate condition and both sides tried to use the crisp surface as much as possible in the opening exchanges. At times it wasn’t pretty as both sets of players settled but it was the Foylesiders who looked more threatening in the final third.
Ryan McBride’s header went narrowly wide from a Dermot McCaffrey set piece and if it wasn’t for Mick Leahy, David McDaid would have opened the scoring after rounding the on rushing College ‘keeper.
It took until the half hour mark for the home side to have a sight of goal but Chris Lyons couldn’t direct Tyrone McNelis’ low cross towards Ger Doherty’s goal.
The Students would rue that missed chance as moments later it was Declan Devine’s side who took the lead after Owen Morrison’s delicate through ball found Stephen McLaughlin in acres of space to fire past Kelly between the sticks.
UCD nearly hit back instantly but Lyons couldn’t keep his header down from another McNelis cross from the right. McLaughlin could have doubled the Derry lead on the half time whistle but his header from McCaffrey’s free went inches wide.
Martin Russell needed to change things and at the interval he introduced the lively Samir Belhout for Chris Mulhall and the substitution made an instant impact. Danny Ledwith made a bustling run from left back but his effort was deflected wide before Robbie Benson squandered a number of decent chances.
Firstly, the former Athlone striker miscued from a couple of yards out when Lyons headed Ledwith’s cross back across goal and then Benson was denied by a last ditch block from McCaffrey when the net was in his sight.
Despite dominating most of the second period, UCD couldn’t find an equaliser and the visitors looked dangerous on the break with Ryan Curran and McLaughlin going close to doubling their lead.
The Students nearly snatched a leveller with a few minutes to go as a brilliant counter attack involving Belhout, Lyons and substitute Dean Clarke resulted in another chance for Benson but his shot was well tipped over by Doherty.
Derry were reduced to ten men for the closing exchanges after Simon Madden was shown his second booking but in the end they held out for a well-earned three points.
UCD: John Kelly; Daniel Ledwith, Mick Leahy, David O’Connor, Ciaran Nangle; Tyrone McNelis (Dean Clarke 75’),Paul Corry, Paul O’Conor, Chris Mulhall (Samir Belhout 45’), Robbie Benson; Chris Lyons
Subs not used: Mark McGinley, Barry McCabe, Hugh Douglas, Gary Burke, Toma Boyle
Bookings: David O’Connor (45’)
Derry City: Ger Doherty; Simon Madden, Shane McEleney, Ryan McBride, Dermot McCaffrey ;, Stephen McLaughlin (Michael Duffy , Ruaidhri Higgins, Owen Morrison (Barry McNamee 59’); David McDaid, Ryan Curran (Michael Barr 86’)
Subs not used: Eugene Ferry, Barry McNamee, Tony McNamee, Matthew Henry
Bookings: Simon Madden (38’), David McDaid (70’), Dermot McCaffrey (73’), Michael Barr (88’)
Sending off: Simon Madden (84’)
Referee: James McKell
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Stephen McLaughlin