St. Patrick’s Athletic climbed back onto the summit of the Premier Division table following this slender victory over Derry City at the Brandywell on Tuesday night.
And it was a former Candystripe who came back to haunt the local club, Killian Brennan, curling home a superb free-kick after just two minutes 30 seconds which decided this issue.
Indeed, with Sligo Rovers held by Drogheda, Pat’s gained an added bonus and now move two points clear of second placed Dundalk.
During a game in which clear-cut scoring opportunites were at a premium, Derry centre-back, Shane McEleney, upended Shane McFaul on the edge of the penalty area and Brennan, took full advantage.
Indeed, the central midfielder produced one of his trademark free-kicks when curling the ball to the net off the upright giving Ger Doherty no chance.
And Pat’s cruised forward attempting to build on that advantage with Daryl Kavanagh causing the home defence no shortage of problems.
In the 23rd minute a cross from Ger O’Brien found Christy Fagan bursting forward and but for a superb last ditch tackle by Ryan McBride, Derry could have found themselves in even more difficulty.
However, the home side eventually settled and with both Ruaidhri Higgins and Barry Molloy becoming more prominent in the central midfield area during the latter stages of the first half, Pat’s found themselves on the defensive.
The home side cause was not helped with the premature retirement of Patrick McEleney after 42 minutes, the midfielder clearly in trouble following a tackle.
There was no doubt that voices will have been raised in the Derry dressing room at the break and the home lot responded having opened the second period brightly.
In fact, they could have equalised in the 58th minute when substitute, Paddy Kavanagh, burst clear on the right but the experienced Pat’s defender, Kenny Browne was alert to the danger and made a timely tackle.
In the 65th minute Derry forced Brendan Clarke, into action for the first time, the Pat’s keeper doing well to save Kavanagh’s left-footed shot from 16 yards.
The half-time introduction of young Ryan Curran sparked life into the Derry front-line, Pat’s central defenders more involved in the game as the home lot continued to surge forward.
Barry Molloy lashed a shot over the crossbar in the 79th minute as the Candystripes increased the pressure.
Substitute, Stephen Maher, was then stretchered off the pitch following a challenge on Derry’s Paddy Kavanagh, the Pat’s player actually booked by the referee, that incident fashioning 10 minutes of added time.
Derry City - Doherty ; Madden , McBride , McNamee ; P. McEleney , Kavanagh), Higgins, Molloy , Griffin (Curran, h/t); McDaid ; Patterson .
St. Pat’s Athletic - Clarke; O’Brien, Kenna, Brown; Byrne, McFaul (Maher, 76), Bolger, Brennan, Bermingham; Kavanagh, Fagan (Flood, 68).
Referee - T. Connolly (Dublin).