Drogheda United look to have sealed at the very least a fourth place position after another come from behind win saw them take all three points against Derry City at Hunky Dorys Park. At the very worst the Boynesiders will have a Setanta Sports cup to look forward to next season.
The home team were behind after two minutes when Alan McNally and Gabriel Sava combined to bring down David McDaid in the box. The Drogheda defender was lucky to stay on the pitch, being the last man he should have gone, but Alan Kelly brandished a yellow card as opposed to the red. McDaid dusted himself down and sent the keeper the wrong way to put the visitors ahead.
The Boynesiders were then thrown a lifeline as totally against the run of play Ryan Brennan was taken down in the box by Shane McEleney who left his leg out. Declan O’Brien stepped up and slotted home his second penalty in as many games.
Alan McNally fully atoned for his mistake just before the break, the defender up till then had put in a barnstorming performance at the back, but from a Ryan Brennan corner the defender got in at the back post unmarked and headed home past Doherty.
The Candystripes have slumped to their third defeat in a row as their hope of securing European football via the league seems to have vanished.
Having taken the lead on two minutes, Derry pressed their advantage in the hope of doubling their lead, but they just couldn’t find that killer ball. McNally demonstrated huge composure became the lynchpin of the Drogheda defence and continually put himself in front of the ball and denied the Derry attack, his sliding tackle on McDaid on the half hour was similar to the tackle he made in the first minute but this time he timed it perfectly to deny the striker a second goal. He then produced a carbon copy of the tackle, again on McDaid, just after 50 minutes.
The Boynesiders nearly took the lead after than goal saving tackle as they went down the field and a ball in from Ryan Brennan floated over Ger Doherty and bounced in front of an empty goal but the greasy conditions were causing players to slip and it was Simon Madden who held his composure to get back and clear.
Barry Molloy kept his side in it just before the hour mark when the midfielder raced back to hook the ball off the line after Declan O’Brien slotted the ball past Doherty.
Drogheda looked to have scored a third goal, but the linesman and the referee were happy that the ball hadn’t fully crossed the line, Declan O’Brien hit the crossbar and the ball rebounded to Peter Hynes who threw his head at it and seemingly forced the ball over the line but Doherty got a hand to it and pulled it back.
There was no doubt about Doherty’s involvement in the second stop as a long ball into the box by Philip Hand wasn’t dealt with properly and the ball broke to Foley who fired at goal and the Derry shot stopper saved the effort.
Drogheda were hanging on for the last 15 minutes as the home side continued to put more bodies behind the ball and settle for the win, Derek Prendergast had to make a last ditch tackle on 74 minutes.
Molloy shinned an effort over the bar on 80 minutes and Philip Hand was forced to head behind at the back post as Derry continued to swarm forward but they failed to find a leveller, the introduction of Mark Farren failed to have any real impact on the game as Drogheda clung on.
Drogheda United: Gabriel Sava; Brian Gannon, Alan McNally, Derek Prendergast, Philip Hand; Ryan Brennan, Paul Crowley, Eric Foley (John Sullivan 72), Gavin Brennan; Declan O’Brien (Tiarnan Mulvenna 88), Peter Hynes.
Subs Not Used: Michael Schlingermann, Sean Brennan, Jason Marks, Stephen Quigley.
Booked: McNally (1), Gannon (29).
Derry City: Ger Doherty; Simon Madden, Caoimhinn Bonner, Shane McEleney, Dermot McCaffery; Marc Brolly (Mark Farren 71), Rudhairi Higgins (Michael Duffy 31), Barry Molloy, Patrick McEleney (Ryan Curran 88), Barry McNamee; David McDaid.
Subs Not Used: Eugene Ferry, Kevin Deery, Matthew Rooney.
Booked: Bonner (90+3).
Referee: Alan Kelly.
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Alan McNally (Drogheda United).