Derry City maintained their pressure at the top of the Airtricity Premier Division with an emphatic 4-1 victory at Terryland Park on Friday evening. Three goals separated the side as Galway just couldn’t keep up with the Candystripes quick passing and movement. Eamon Zayed, James McClean (2) and Gareth McGlynn got the goals for the visitors with the only reply coming from a fine solo effort for Bobby Ryan.
Noel Connolly, the Galway United groundskeeper, again had Terryland Park in immaculate condition for this highly anticipated game and it was the hosts who settled quickest.
Bobby Ryan went agonisingly close as early as the first minute with a powerful drive from all of 30-yards that just grazed the crossbar on its way out of play. Derry soon started to find their feet and began to play in a fashion that fit their favourites tag. Eamon Zayed should have opened the scoring in the 11th minute when he met Lafferty’s low cross at the near post but found Fleming well placed to turn it around the post.
McEleney too went close from a McClean cross from the same side, but flicked just wide this time. McClean indeed looked the most promising outlet for the Candystripes down the left wing, getting himself onto a Zayed knock down but couldn’t keep his shot low enough to trouble Fleming.
Galway United were condemned to attacks on the break and found it difficult to make any real inroads with a makeshift frontline. Sean Kelly and Steve Feeney did find space but neither could beat Doherty who made easy work of both chances.
These chances were against the run of play as Derry soon reassumed their dominance and were unlucky not to have forced Sinnot to drive into his own net. McClean’s free kick was just missed by Zayed and the Galway defender did brilliantly not to drive into his own net from right under his own crossbar, instead lifting it over for the corner.
Indeed Galway couldn’t last the whole half with the way things were panning out. Sean Connor’s men were finding it difficult to handle McClean and Zayed and it was only a matter of time that one of them would get past Fleming.
Zayed finally did break the deadlock in the 44th minute. He allowed a breaking ball to run across his body, holding off Sinnott and Maher before he smashed the ball past Fleming with great finish.
The second half started with a whirlwind few minutes as Derry doubled their lead only to see it halved almost immediately. Directly after the break McClean got the goal his performance deserved. The wide man latched onto Deery’s through ball and slotted under Flemings body to double the lead.
It looked as if the contest was coming to an end as Galway didn’t have any avenues to venture that would prise open the Derry defence. Bobby Ryan however gave them a spark of hope with an amazing individual effort on 49 minutes. After collecting the ball on the half way line, the winger charged for goal before unleashing a great shot into the corner of Doherty’s net. The crowd sensed a comeback.
The noise levels reached fever pitch for a few minutes as Connor was seen on the sideline urging the crowd to get behind his team. McClean however was set on silencing them. After cutting in from the left wing with a fine run he settled this contest with a thunderous drive from outside the area that left Fleming motionless.
That goal really knocked the wind out of the Galway sails and soon they were three behind. McEleney and Zayed exchanged passes before the former sent in a cross that McGlynn met emphatically for Derry ending the game as a contest by the 63rd minute.
With that fourth goal hitting the net, Sean Connor decided to blood some young players, Shane Keogh got a run out, and nearly made the scoreline more respectable for the hosts when he hit the crossbar from just inside the box with a fine effort.
McDaid too for Derry hit the crossbar after being sprung from the bench when his audacious lob left Fleming stranded, the forward was unlucky to see it cannon back off the framework.
There will be no complaints here though, the Candystripes ran out comprehensive winners and can be happy with their evenings work. Connor will point to injures and rightly so, but he will be worried as to the gulf in class being so evident.
Galway United: Greg Fleming; Shaun Kelly, Paul Sinnott, Shaun Maher, Stephen Walsh; Brian Cash (Shane Keogh 67), Eduardo Dusi, Sean Kelly, Bobby Ryan; Karl Moore, Steven Feeney (Enda Curran 60).
Subs not used: Conor Winn, Gary Kelly, Shane McInerney, Paul Smith, Keith Duffy.
Bookings: Shaun Kelly (36), Stephen Walsh (56).
Derry City: Gerard Doherty; Eddie McCallion, Stewart Greacen, Shane McEleney, Daniel Lafferty; Kevin Deery, Patrick McEleney (Michael McCrudden 84), James McClean (Stepen McLaughlin 77), Gareth McGlynn, Ruairdhi Higgins; Eamon Zayed (David McDaid 90).
Subs not used: Eugene Ferry, Emmet Friars, Ryan McBride, Thomas McBride.
Bookings: S McEleney (55), E McCallion (72).
Referee: Neil Doyle
Extratime Man of the Match: James McClean, a brace of goals and a constant menace in the Galway defence.