Derry City got Peter Hutton’s first home game as their new manager off to a winning start in some style as they defeated a spirited if a little toothless Drogheda side at the Brandywell on Friday evening.
There were no great surprises in the home sides line up as star striker Rory Patterson was given an immediate recall and he repaid the managers faith by getting on the score sheet in the second half. Drogheda on the other hand opted not to start with Declan O'Brien who has enjoyed a fruitful time against Derry in previous encounters.
The game began as you would expect from two teams who have had inauspicious starts to the season with little cohesiveness on display. A neat one-two in the sixth minute, between the impressive Patrick McEleney and Michael Duffy, saw the latter drag his shot just wide.
There were few chances of note but in the 21st minute the home side opened the scoring. Patrick McEleney found himself in space wide on the left and sent over an inviting, looping cross to the back post which was met on the volley by Michael Duffy, giving Dave Ryan no chance.
Four minutes later Drogheda should have equalised. A woefully short backpass from Danny Ventre was seized upon by Gary O'Neill and he only had Doherty to beat but inexplicably shot wide when it seemed much easier to hit the target.
In the 31st minute Barry McNamee played a beautiful through ball through to the busy Patterson but his shot on the turn was brilliantly kept out by the legs of Dave Ryan. Two minutes later Ventre gave the ball away high up the pitch and Sean O'Connor drove down the middle before unleashing a fierce 30 yard drive which was tipped over by the Derry netminder.
Derry were worthy of their lead however and the half time whistle gave Robbie Horgan a chance to rally his troops.
Drogheda made a change at half time in an attempt to get back in the game bringing on veteran striker Declan 'Fabio' O'Brien. Derry however continued to play the more attractive football and Patterson almost extended their advantage in the 47th minute wriggling free on the edge of the box before firing just wide.
The home side doubled their advantage in the 65th minute and what a goal it was. Patrick McEleney picked up the ball deep in his own half and drove at the defence beating two men before putting an inch perfect cross onto the foot of Patterson who couldn't miss from two yards.
Derry were playing with a swagger that only a two goal advantage can bring and the Roddy Collins era seemed a long way off as the crowd got right behind their team. In the 77th minute there were shouts for a penalty as Patterson was man handled in the box but Derek Tomney didn't think so, leaving the Derry front man extremely frustrated.
There were a couple more half chances for each side before the end but overall it was a comfortable and deserved victory for the home team and Peter Hutton will have seen a lot to his liking. Robbie Horgan’s men will face a tough task picking up the pieces after what has been a terrible week for them.
Derry City: Gerard Doherty; Shane McEleney, Aaron Barry, Ryan McBride, Dean Jarvis; Patrick McEleney (Ryan Curran 90+1), Barry Molloy, Barry McNamee, Danny Ventre, Michael Duffy; Rory Patterson.
Subs not used: Ciaran Gallagher (gk), Roddy Collins, Raymond Foy, Nathan Boyle, Enda Curran, Tony McNamee.
Drogheda United: Dave Ryan; Michael Daly, Ciaran McGuigan, Alan McNally, Shane Grimes; Paul Crowley (c), Daire Doyle, Gavin Holohan (Declan O'Brien 46), Sean O'Connor; Gary O'Neill (Philip Hughes 80), Carl Walshe (Cathal Brady 54).
Subs not used: Paul Andrews, Dylan Connolly, Dominic Mahon, Dale Harding.
Booked: Daire Doyle, Sean O'Connor.
Referee: Derek Tomney.
Attendance: 1,400 (estimate).
ExtraTime.ie Man of the Match: Patrick McEleney (Derry City).