Derry City remain five points behind Premier Division leaders Shamrock Rovers after they beat Bohemians 3-0 at the Brandywell on Friday evening.
The Candy Stripes took the lead through Gareth McGlynn before Eamon Zayed added a second just before half-time. Zayed went on to score his 14th of the season when he converted a fantastic James McClean cross in the second half.
Friday’s game with the Gypsies marked the official halfway mark of the season. With 18 games played and the same number of games left to play Stephen Kenny’s team find themselves well in contention for the league title. Friday’s result made sure that they stayed within five points of the league leaders and defending champions Shamrock Rovers.
“We are delighted with how the team performed tonight,” said a happy James McClean after the game. “It’s always nice to play well at home but to beat a team like Bohemians 3-0 is something that we are happy about.”
McClean, who started on the left wing, set-up two of Derry’s three goals. Most impressive was the way in which he manoeuvred past Owen Heary and Steven Hurley to cross for Eamon Zayed to score Derry’s third in the 83rd minute.
“Eamon [Zayed] has been on my case and has been telling me that he wants me to cross so that he could score – hopefully tonight’s cross will keep him quiet for a while,” he said laughing.
“Seriously though, the most important thing is that the team got three points and I’m just delighted that I was able to play my part.”
Derry looked extremely well organised throughout the opening 45 minutes of Friday’s game against the Gypsies. Derry manager Stephen Kenny got the better of his counterpart Pat Fenlon’s team in every position on the field.
From goalkeeper Gerard Doherty to the defensive pairing Stewart Greacen and Shane McEleney to forwards James McClean and Eamon Zayed, Derry were clearly heads and shoulders above the Dubliners and their superiority was tangible when they led 2-0 at half-time.
James McClean had a chance to test Bohemians goalkeeper Barry Murphy in the seventh minute when he connected with a Kevin Deery corner at the front post but the Creggan wingers’ effort went over the crossbar.
The Candy Stripes should have at least hit the target in the ninth minute when Eamon Zayed held the ball up inside the Bohemians area and slotted his pass to Patrick McEleney. The 18 year-old tried one dip and dive too many and really should have got his shot away but as the ball was cleared it arrived at the feet of Kevin Deery who fired over the bar from outside the area.
Barry Molloy, who started at right-back, was tasked with the responsibility of limiting Steven Hurley’s impact on the game. Molly’s reading of the game proved immense in the 15th minute when, sticking tight to the winger, he made a last ditch interception. It was a top class piece of defending and an effort on goal would have almost certainly have resulted had Molloy not headed the ball into touch.
Derry took the lead in the 29th minute when after some excellent build up play Gareth McGlynn poked the ball past Murphy.
Just before he broke the deadlock, McGlynn slipped the ball to Lafferty who in turn found James McClean on the left. McClean took the ball tight to the line before firing a cross low along the ground. McGlynn timed his arrival to perfection and nipped in front of Murphy to guide the ball into the net.
Ruiadhri Higgins played a majestic pass from deep inside his own area towards McGlynn on the right-wing in the 36th minute. It was as if the ball was destined to land at McGlynn’s feet but as the Donegal born footballer burst into the area his cross was smothered by Murphy.
McGlynn linked up extremely well with Zayed in the 40th minute. The Derry winger brought the ball out of defence and down the right wing before sending his pass straight down the line to the Libyan international. Zayed touched the ball back into the path of McGlynn whose cross found Kevin Deery inside the area; unfortunately the Derry skippers’ header went over the crossbar.
Pat Fenlon’s team went very close to grabbing an equaliser in the 43rd minute when Keith Buckley’s cross found Hurley inside the Derry area. Hurley’s header was powerful and precise but Doherty reacted brilliantly with a finger tip save over the crossbar.
Derry doubled their lead on the stroke of half-time with a remarkable individual goal from Zayed.
The Dublin born centre-forward collected the ball outside the Bohemians area, looked up once and fired the ball to the right of Murphy from 25 yards. It was a powerful strike from the 27 year-old but if truth be told Murphy really should have done better.
The second half started and aside from a few half chances the first 30 minutes passed without incident.
Derry had a penalty claim rejected by referee Derek Tomney in the 77th minute.
Shane McEleney played a neat one two with Kevin Deery and burst into the Bohs area with the ball. McEleney attempted to curl the ball past Murphy but his shot appeared to come of the hands of Liam Burns but Derek Tomney waved for play to continue.
Derry got their third goal of the game in the 83rd minute when Eamon Zayed scored from inside the six yard box.
Zayed’s second strike came courtesy of a remarkable piece of skill from James McClean. McClean picked the ball up on the left side of midfield and proceeded to run both Owen Heary and Steven Hurely ragged. The Derry winger ducked and dived his way to the touchline before delivering an exquisite pass to the back post. Despite the fact that Bohemians had three players inside the box, Eamon Zayed was totally unmarked at the back post and was able to tap the ball past Murphy.
Stephen Kenny’s team could have had another goal in the dying minutes when Gareth McGlynn crossed towards the back post from the right. McClean rose above the Bohemians defence but his header went wide.
It was a remarkable team performance by Stephen Kenny’s team and while some may say that the final score was harsh on Bohemians very few would argue that the Candy Stripes did not deserve all three points.
It’s easy to point to the individual performances of players such as McClean, McGlynn and Zayed but the fact remains, Friday’s game at the Brandywell was a tremendous display by a well organised and fantastically disciplined team.
Next up for Derry City is Sligo Rovers at the Brandywell on Tuesday evening; kick-off 7.45pm.
DERRY CITY: Gerard Doherty: Barry Molloy (Eddie McCallion 67 mins), Daniel Lafferty, Stewart Greacen, Shane McEleney; Kevin Deery, Ruaidhri Higgins, James McClean, Gareth McGlynn; Patrick McEleney (Ruairi Harkin 70 mins), Eamon Zayed (David McDaid 90 mins).
Subs not used: Eugene Ferry; Ryan McBride; Stephen McLaughlin; Michael McCrudden.
BOHEMIANS: Barry Murphy; Owen Heary, Mark Rossiter, Glen Cronin, Liam Burns; Aiden Price, Keith Buckley (Eoin Fowler 74 mins), Robert Bayly, Christy Fagan (Shane Keeley 86 mins); Stephen Traynor, Stephen Hurley (Christopher Forrester 66 mins).
Subs not used: Lee Dixon; Roberto Lopez, Kevin Feely, Craig Sexton.
REFEREE: Mr. Derek Tomney (Dublin).