Colman Stanley reporting from Richmond Park
Derry City moved into second place in the league with a comfortable 3-1 victory over St. Patrick’s Athletic at on a cold night at Richmond Park.
It was a mad first half with all the goals and a red card coming before the break. Derry went 3-0 and a man up while Pats could only salvage a goal as their title hopes took a massive blow.
Pats made one change to the game with Ciaran Kelly coming in for defender David Webster who had picked up a red card in last Friday’s 1-1 draw with Cork City.
The home side’s form has been patchy this season and this game was huge for their title hopes as Rovers’ lay 16 points ahead of them at the top of the table, albeit with two games in hand.
The Candystripes made three changes to their starting line up from Friday’s 2-0 victory over Derry City. Patrick McClean, Josh Kerr, and Gerardo Bruna coming in for Ciaran Coll, Eoin Toal, and Barry McNamee.
Derry got off to a dream start when Patrick McClean scored after only two minutes.
The defender picked up the ball 30 yards out and hit a shot which looked like it would be too underpowered to trouble Brendan Clarke.
The ball dipped however just at the right time and bounced passed the outstretched keeper and into the left hand corner. Despite the bounce Clarke should have made the save.
Darragh Markey had a good chance to equalise soon after but his shot was straight at Peter Cherrie, and it went down-hill very quickly from then on for the home side.
The Candystripes were awarded a free-kick in a dangerous position around 23 yards out from goal.
Gerardo Bruna stepped up and curled a beautiful shot over the wall and into the bottom corner. Clarke on this occasion had no chance.
Almost immediately after the goal, Kevin Toner took a heavy touch and dived in hard and recklessly on Derry captain Ciaran Harkin. Referee Paul McLaughlin wasted no time in showing him a straight red card.
After a period of sustained pressure, Derry found the net once more as Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe finished coolly at the back post after a neat cross from Darren Cole.
Again there was a big moment almost immediately after the teams restarted, as Gary Shaw grabbed a goal back for the home side.
The ex-Rovers man rose the highest and headed home a good cross from Rhys McCabe.
The second half certainly paled in comparison to the first with neither team having any very clear cut chances.
The home side had most of the territory and possession as they looked to salvage the game but never really threatened in the second half.
Their best chance came through Gary Shaw when his glancing header went just wide of the post mid-way through the half.
Derry nearly caught Pats on the counter on a few occasions but were content not too take too many risks and there were only half chances for either side in the last twenty minutes.
That victory sends the Candystripes into second place as they face the league leaders at home this Friday.
A win there will put them only five points behind Rovers with a game in hand. For Pats it looks increasingly likely that they will not be mounting a serious challenge this season.
St. Patrick’s Athletic: Brendan Clarke, Ian Bermingham, Ciaran Kelly, Simon Madden, Kevin Toner, Conor Clifford, Lee Desmond, Jamie Lennon (Dean Clarke), Darragh Markey (Jake Walker 80), Rhys McCabe (Cian Coleman 46), Gary Shaw.
Subs not used: Barry Murphy, James Doona, Chris Forrester, Paul Cleary.
Booked: Conor Clifford.
Sent off: Kevin Toner.
Derry City: Peter Cherrie, Patrick McClean, Josh Kerr (Eoin Toal 88), Ciaran Harkin, Ally Gilchrist, Darren Cole, Greg Sloggett, Gerardo Bruna (Barry McNamee 71), Eoghan Stokes (Ciaran Coll 66), David Parkhouse, Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe.
Subs not used: Nathan Gartside, Evan Tweed, Shane McNamee, Brendan Barr.
Sent off: None.
Referee: Paul McLaughlin
ExtraTime.ie Man of the Match: Ciaron Harkin.