by Robert O'Reilly
In a game of few chances, Cathal Brady’s second half strike was the difference as Drogheda United defeated Derry City 1-0 at a cold and windy United Park.
Drogheda manager Damien Richardson opted for two changes from the side that lost 2-1 to Bohemians last Friday as Garreth Brady and Michael Daly started in place of the suspended pair of Gavin Brennan and Gavan Holohan.
Despite being an injury concern in the run up to the game, Rory Patterson led the line for the Candystripes as they aimed to put consecutive defeats to Shamrock Rovers and Cork City behind them but the visitors were second best in the opening stages.
United created the first chance of the game early on as Garreth Brady’s corner from the right landed kindly for Peter McGlynn but the midfielder’s 20 yard volley was off target.
Shane Grimes, who is yet to score for United this season, ventured forward from left back on 14 minutes and enterprising play between Carl Walshe and Gary O’Neill saw the latter pick out the defender inside the box but his tame effort was pushed away by Gerard Doherty.
Two further half chances fell the way of United in the opening half hour as Garreth Brady’s well struck 25 yard free-kick flew narrowly over the Derry crossbar and from another set piece, Ciaran McGuigan crossed for O’Neill at the back post only for the striker to be put off by the aerial challenge of Dean Jarvis.
The game was lacking quality up that point until Rory Patterson created a yard of space on the left hand side of goal and his stunning effort from distance seemed destined for the top corner until Michéal Schlingermann’s impressive intervention resulted in the ball being diverted for a corner kick.
City were ending the half stronger and incisive play down the left led to the ball being worked to Josh Tracey on the edge of the box and the winger’s goal bound strike was deflected wide by a last ditch block from McGuigan as Derry chased the opener.
Both sides started the second period with more vigor and intensity and United should have taken the lead within the opening minute. Grimes, who was an attacking threat all game, sprinted past Shaun Kelly and his low delivery from the byline was inch perfect for O’Neill only for a fingertip intervention from Doherty to deny the striker.
Drogheda weren’t to be denied for long though as on 56 minutes, Carl Walshe dribbled beyond Kelly down the left and his clipped cross was volleyed by Cathal Brady past the helpless Doherty for the winger’s second goal in four games.
Given their lead, the hosts seemed content to sit back and soak up Derry pressure as the Candystripes struggled to create genuine goal scoring chances. A scramble in the Drogheda box on 66 minutes saw the ball fall to Patterson but the striker failed to connect cleanly with his diving header as United cleared the danger.
In spite of Derry’s stranglehold of possession, the Boynesiders were the ones threatening to double their advantage as Garreth Brady’s deflected strike bounced kindly for McGlynn but the midfielder couldn’t beat Doherty at his near post.
The visitors continued to huff and puff in the closing stages of the games but their play was devoid of invention as Drogheda comfortably saw out their third victory in their last five games to rise within two points of sixth place Derry.
by Robert O'Reilly
Drogheda United will be aiming to return to winning ways this Monday as they face Derry City at United Park, kickoff 7.45pm.
United’s three-match unbeaten return came to an end last Friday as they were defeated 2-1 by Bohemians at Dalymount Park, a result that leaves the Boynesiders in ninth place in the league table.
“We were all very disappointed with the level of our performance on Friday and we’re glad a game is coming as quickly as Monday to give us an opportunity to wipe the misery away,” was the opinion of Drogheda manager Damien Richardson on Sunday.
The Drogs are hopeful that Michael Daly will be available after an ankle injury but the midfielder will require a late fitness test. Gavin Brennan was dismissed during the course of the defeat to Gypsies and he will be suspended for the visit of the Candystripes, as will Gavan Holohan, who will serve a one-match ban having accumulated four yellow cards this campaign.
“We’re missing a couple of senior players, key players, but that enables some of the younger players to step up. Even in adversity there’s always opportunity and I’m looking forward to seeing how the younger players perform. We don’t have enough experienced players, I think everyone recognises that, but the youngsters we have are talented although you never know how they are going to do when they step into the heat of the competition itself.”
The fortunes of the visitors have improved greatly since the appointment of Peter Hutton in May and they have risen to sixth in the table despite the reversal at home to Cork City last Friday.
City come into the game with injury concerns as Rory Patterson, Ryan McBride and Barry Molloy are all rated as doubtful.
There was nothing to separate the sides when they met at United Park in March in a 1-1 draw while Derry bested Drogheda 2-0 at the Brandywell in Hutton’s first home game in charge.
Despite the Northerners suffering successive league defeats to Shamrock Rovers and Cork, Richardson is anticipating another tight contest.
“Derry are a very attractive side and play good football in the tradition of the football club and having lost a couple of games, they, like ourselves, will be very eager to get back on the winning trail, which suggests that it’s going to be a very competitive and entertaining game.”
Garreth Brady (Paul Crowley 83’)
Cathal Brady (Paul Andrews 90’)
Gary O’Neill (Declan O’Brien 87’)
Cliff Byrne (Barry McNamee 74’)
Mark Timlin (Stephen Dooley 61’)
Nathan Boyle (Patrick McEleney 46’)
Cathal Brady 56’
Gary O’Neill (yellow) 77’
Rory Patterson (yellow) 60’
Stephen Dooley (yellow) 67’
Dean Jarvis (yellow) 78’
Shane McEleney (yellow) 90 & 2’