Odhrán Crumley reports from the Brandywell
There was drama right until the last kick of the game as Derry City edged out St Patrick's Athletic to make it three wins from three upon their return to the Brandywell.
The RTE cameras were in town for a game that had it all: wonder strikes, disallowed goals, missed chances and incredibly brave defensive blocks.
Whether the points would end up or be shared was up for decision until literally the final touch of the game.
Derry City got the game underway and it was a frantic start to proceedings as two teams who like to get the ball down and play wrestled for possession.
But as both sides know all too well, you have to earn the right to play. Simon Madden was causing Derry problems with bombing runs down the line that are all too familiar to the home supporters.
The home side edged the early proceedings controlling the early possession without any chances at either end.
In the first threatening attack of the game, Jake Keegan sent a ball into the box that appeared destined for Ryan Brennan’s foot to tap into the empty net.
However the ball did not reach Brennan as Ronan Curtis made a sensational sliding interception to stop what surely would have been the opening goal of the game.
There were ten minutes on the clock when Derry broke the deadlock. Aaron McEneff pounced on a lapse in the St Pats defence before sending a sensational strike into the top left corner of the net.
Liam Buckley’s men went in immediate search of an equaliser, with Madden beating his man and sending an inviting cross into the area but it was met by the head of Darren Cole who rose highest to clear.
At the other end Conor McDermott sent a fine cross onto the head of Curtis but it tailed to the left and wide.
Midway through the half Pats were left wondering how they hadn’t equalised. Gerard Doherty made a wonder save to deny Jamie Lennon before the rebound fell to Conan Byrne but it was somehow deflected away from the goal and out for a corner.
From the resulting corner Jake Keegan bundled the ball into the net, only for it to be disallowed by referee Robert Harvey. The reason for ruling out the goal? No one in the ground seemed to know.
For the rest of the half it would be all the Saints as they pinned Derry deep inside their own half. They would fail to create anything of real note and went in at the break trailing on a scoreline of 1-0.
The Inchicore men began the second half where they had left off the first, in possession and on the attack, winning two early corners in quick succession. The second, again, just evaded the net and was bravely saved on the line by Gerard Doherty.
On the hour mark, Derry began to grow back into the game creating chances of their own. But again it was the visitors who came closest.
Dean Clarke’s original effort was blocked by Conor McDermott and fell to Conan Byrne in the box but his left footed effort went high over the bar.
Owen Garvan would be the next to come closest but once again Doherty would be up to the task saving from twelve yards.
It was the home side who doubled their advantage with 15 minutes left on the clock.
Aaron McEneff starting the move playing the ball out to Rory Patterson on the right. Patterson sent an exquisite ball back into McEneff’s path, and he took one touch before sending another rasping effort into the top right-hand corner of the net.
Pats pulled one back from a corner, Dean Clarke getting the final touch as the ball was bundled into the net beyond a sea of bodies.
The visitors would go in desperate search of an equaliser and the ball fell to Christy Fagan ten yards out. The ball seemed sure to hit the net only for the divine intervention of Darren Cole, something reminiscent of Easter proceedings.
Rob Harvey would sound his whistle a fraction of a second later to bring the game to an end confirming a dramatic win for Derry City.
Derry City: Gerard Doherty, Conor McDermott, Aaron McEneff, Rory Hale, Ronan Curtis, Rory Patterson, Eoin Toal, Darren Cole, Ben Doherty (David Hopkirk 59), Ronan Hale, Jack Doyle.
Subs not used: Eric Grimes, Jamie McDonagh, Gavin Peers, Cathal Farren, Evan Tweed, Scot Whiteside.
Booked: Rory Hale (42).
St.Patrick’s Athletic: Barry Murphy, Ian Bermingham, Kevin Toner, Lee Desmond, Owen Garvan, Conan Byrne, Ryan Brennan (Christy Fagan 68), Simon Madden, Dean Clarke, Jamie Lemon, Jake Keegan (James Doona 68).
Subs not used: Tyson Farago, Michael Barker, Graham Kelly, Darragh Markey, Michael Leahy.
Booked: Ryan Brennan (68).
Referee: Robert Harvey.
Attendance: 2,100 (estimate).
Extratime.ie Player of the Match: Aaron McEneff (Derry City).