Title hopes suffer severe blow at Brandywell as dreams fade

LOI, Derry City v Drogheda Utd, 16-8-13'Derry City's Eoghan Osborne with Cathal Brady of Drogheda Utd at the Brandywell on Friday night. Picture Margaret McLaughlin � please by-line
LOI, Derry City v Drogheda Utd, 16-8-13'Derry City's Eoghan Osborne with Cathal Brady of Drogheda Utd at the Brandywell on Friday night. Picture Margaret McLaughlin � please by-line

DROGHEDA United inflicted even more pain on Derry City at the Brandywell on Friday night, the Co. Louth side having severely damaged the Brandywell club’s Championship hopes after already knocking them out of the EA Sports Cup at the semi-final stage.

DROGHEDA United inflicted even more pain on Derry City at the Brandywell on Friday night, the Co. Louth side having severely damaged the Brandywell club’s Championship hopes after already knocking them out of the EA Sports Cup at the semi-final stage.

And, if the truth be told, the powers-that-be at the Lone Moor Road venue can have few complaints as the “Candy Stripes” again struggled to deal with the hard-working “Boynesiders.”

In the end it was the Brennan brothers who sealed Derry’s fate with strikes on either side of half time, Gavin and Ryan impressing on the former stomping ground of ex-Derry winger and, of course, their brother, Killian, back in 2006.

In fact, it came as no surprise that Devine locked his troops in the home dressing room for half an hour after the final whistle as he attempted to come to terms with yet another game which his side simply gifted to the opposition.

And if gift-wrapped goals were the order of the day in the League Cup semi-final, then last night’s offering proved to be even more significant with a horrible defensive howlers and a clear-cut penalty award proving to be the home lot’s undoing.

That said, the hard-working Co. Louth side roved forward at every opportunity and they appear to be ending the season with a fine run of form.

Derry may have owned the ball during the early stages after a decent start but despite that, it was Drogheda United who began to create the clear-cut scoring chances.

Indeed, in the 15th minute a deep cross by Drogheda winger, Cathal Brady saw Gavin Brennan ghost in at the back post but his angled header crashed agonisingly wide of the upright.

Three minutes later Declan O’Brien raced clear in what appeared to be a suspicious offside position but his parting shot was parried by Gerard Doherty and the home lot breathed a sigh of relief.

Derry’s first scoring chance did not arrive until the 36th minute when, following a corner, Ruaidhri Higgins powered a header over the crossbar when he really should have hit the target.

But it was the “Boynesiders” who drew first blood in the 38th minute when breaking the deadlock and, not for the first time when these sides have met, Derry were again the authors of their own downfall.

Simon Madden and Doherty failing to deal with a clearance, the defender shepherding the ball back with the keeper failing to come, Declan O’Brien’s shot parried high by before the well placed Gavin Brennan headed home from close range.

And it got worse for the home side after the break when Shane McEleney clearly and foolishly impeded Ryan Brennan, pushing the midfielder in the broad of the back as he raced into the danger area.

A well placed referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and the “Candy Stripes” were in trouble.

Up stepped Ryan Brennan to drive the ball home from the spot and Derry’s title aspirations began to fade.

Derry’s Michael Duffy and substitute, Barry McNamee were both denied by Drogheda keeper, Michael Schlingermann, as the home side pushed forward in an attempt to pull the game out of the fire.

Derry’s Ryan McBride went close with a header following a corner as Drogheda appeared content to retain possession in an effort to run the clock down.

Rory Patterson crashed a low free-kick wide of the target as Derry’s title hopes began to fade.

Derry City – Doherty; Madden, McBride, S. McEleney, Osborne; Kavanagh, P. McEleney, Higgins (Molloy, 56), Houston (McNamee, 56); Duffy (Griffin, 80), Patterson.

Drogheda United – Schlingermann; Daly, A. Byrne, Prendergast, Hand; Brady, O’Connor, R. Brennan, Cassidy, G. Brennan; O’Brien.

Referee – A. Kelly (Cork).