Date: 7:45 p.m. July 3, 2009
Venue: Oriel Park
Att: 2,500 (est)
Alex Williams 37' -
Remarkably Williams had only gained international clearance to play for Dundalk earlier in the day along with Michael Collins, and both played their part in their side's victory and suggested they will be extremely important to Dundalk throughout the season. Indeed, Williams walked off the Oriel Park pitch to a standing ovation when substituted in injury time.
It's been seven years since Derry City last took to the pitch at Oriel Park and their hosts set about their task as if keen to show them what they had been missing. Williams could have gotten his name on the score sheet even earlier than he did after the onrushing Doherty blasted his clearance off him and the ball rebounded just wide of the post. Five minutes later, and the Scotsman had another chance; his powerful free kick from the left hand side of the area palmed away expertly by the former TNS goalkeeper.
Dundalk were looking for a win that would keep them in fifth spot, while for Derry a win could potentially have placed them on top of the table, had Bohemians failed to grab all three points at Bray. The Candystripes may have come into the match on a six-match unbeaten run but showed little to demonstrate their abilities in the brilliant sunshine that bathed Oriel Park. They now find themselves four points behind the leaders and only a point ahead of Cork City.
Dundalk took the game to Derry in a pulsating first half, and while the away side were starting to settle as half time approached, the goal was just reward for a team who had shown little fear of their title-challenging opponents. The Foylesiders were missing six first team players and looked a shadow of the side that had cantered into second spot in recent weeks.
Derry's best chance of the match fell to Thomas Stewart seven minutes into the second half when Sammy Morrow's superb cross from the tightest of angles on the left hand byline seemed easier to head into the goal from inside the six-yard box, than it did to be headed wide.
That was as good as it got for Derry, as the hosts limited Stephen Kenny's side to harmless long range efforts and hastily taken crosses. Dundalk defended resolutely and without a hint of panic, while managing to look dangerous every time they broke. Michael Daly had the chance to finish the game off with 15 minutes to go after one such counter-attack. The superb Williams showed terrific strength to hold off the attention of two Derry defenders, and when Peter Hutton eventually got a foot to the ball, it rolled straight across the edge of the penalty area and into the path of the ex-Manchester City defender, whose attempt to slot the ball home from the edge of the area was foiled by the fast thinking Doherty's dive at his feet.
The final ten minutes were frantic but for all Derry's endeavour, they showed little to merit a goal and looked increasingly out of ideas as the final whistle approached. With nine minutes of the game to go, substitute Tam McManus received the ball midway inside the Dundalk half on the right wing and as he paused to look up and find a teammate, Dundalk's Declan O'Brien dispossessed him and ran straight down the line well into the Derry half. It was a passage that seemed to sum up the game as a whole as the resulting exchanges gave Dundalk three consecutive corners and the chance to run down the clock even further.
Dundalk: C. Bennion, S. Kelly, M. Collins, L. Burns, T. Heary, C. Turner (Synnott, 89), D. Mansaram, D. O'Brien, A. Williams (Mulvenna, 92), M. Daly, S. Kelly
Subs: T. Mulvenna (Rowe, 70), M. McGinlay, M. Coburn, M Synnott, G. Rowe
Derry City: G. Doherty, E. McCallion, P. Hutton, M. McCrystal (McClean, 68), R. Higgins, C. Martyn, S. Morrow, T. Stewart (Harkin, 79), G. O'Brien, M. Farren (McManus, 70), D. Scullion
Subs: J. McClean, T. McManus, R. Harkin, S. McEleney, P. Jennings
Referee: T. Connolly
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Alex Williams.