St Patricks Athletic climbed to the summit of the Premier League again with a deserved but ultimately hard fought victory over a game Derry City side who can't seem to get a result at home at the Brandywell on Tuesday evening.
In a match where clear cut chances were at a premium, it was the away side who bossed the first half after a magnificent start when they went ahead after only three minutes.
With the game only a couple of minutes in, Shane McFaul was deemed to have been challenged unfairly by Shane McEleney on the edge of the area. Up stepped former Candystripe Killian Brennan to curl a beautiful free kick up and over the wall and into the top corner off the post. It was a truly magnificent strike.
Derry were stunned by this early setback and the first chance they managed to carve out came from a Simon Madden cross. He delivered the ball to an unmarked Rory Patterson at the back post, but the normally unflappable marksman snatched at his shot and it finished well wide of the target.
The visitors settled into a period of keep ball which was impressive to watch and for large portions of the opening period, the home side seemed to be chasing shadows. They were happy to just stroke the ball about and only really created a couple of half chances for Conan Byrne and Daryl Kavanagh. That said they were extremely comfortable with Derry offering very little to worry them.
Whatever Declan Devine said at half time clearly had the desired effect as they came out a different side. Ryan Curran replaced Griffin at the break and his youthful energy seemed to rub off on some of the more senior players. Almost immediately Rory Patterson charged down a Clarke clearance but the ball spun back into the goalkeepers hands.
In the 59th minute Paddy Kavanagh found himself through on goal after a mazy run but opted to check back instead of shoot and the chance was gone. Again in the 66th minute kavanagh tested the keeper from 20 yards but Clarke held on well. In the 82nd minute substitute Stephen Maher scythed down Paddy Kavanagh and went into the book, but the St Pats player came off worse in the challenge and was ultimately stretchered off after spending 10 minutes receiving treatment.
The 10 minutes added on proved quite a frantic period as Derry threw everything forward looking to get something from the game. Neither side could however carve out a clear cut opportunity.
Liam Buckley will be delighted to leave Foyleside with all three points and return to the top of the table whilst Declan Devine will take some heart in a much improved performance from his men even though they got nothing from the game.
Derry City: Gerard Doherty; Simon Madden, Ryan McBride, Shane McEleney, Barry McNamee; Patrick McEleney (Patrick Kavanagh 42), Mark Griffin (Ryan Curran 46), Barry Molloy (c), Ruaidhri Higgins, David McDaid; Rory Patterson.
Subs not used: Eugene Ferry, Raymond Foy, Josh Tracey, Michael Duffy, Michael Rafter.
Booked: B McNamee (38), Molloy (58), S McEleney (72), R McBride (90+6).
St Patricks Athletic: Brendan Clarke;Ger O’Brien, Kenny Browne, Conor Kenna, Ian Bermingham; Conan Byrne, Greg Bolger, Shane McFaul (Stephen Maher 76 (Sean Gannon 89)), Killian Brennan; Christy Fagan (Anthony Flood 68), Daryl Kavanagh.
Subs not used: Rene Gilmartin, Lorcan Fitzgerald, Chris Forrester, Aidan Price.
Booked: Maher (82), K Brennan (90+5).
Referee: Tomas Connolly.
Attendance: 900 (est).
ExtraTime.ie Man of the Match: Conan Byrne (St Patricks Athletic).
Jamie Mahon joined the Extratime team at the beginning of 2011. Hailing from the North West, Jamie reports on all things Derry City. He can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @JamieMahon23.