Derry City got their title challenge back on track when they beat UCD 3-1 in the UCD Bowl on Friday evening.
In recent weeks, Declan Devine’s men had succumbed to defeat to Sligo Rovers in the league and Drogheda United in the League Cup respectively but thanks to a brace of goals from Rory Patterson and one from promising youngster Michael Duffy, the Candy Stripes travelled back up the N2 with all three points intact.
It was a game many believed Derry should win and they weren’t to be disappointed as some of football on display from the visitors was amongst their best in recent matches.
UCD had a great chance to open the scoring in the 18th minute when Robbie Creevy misplaced a pass to team-mate Craig Walsh who fired his shot just wide of the target.
Minutes later, Derry midfielder Ruaidhri Higgins had an opportunity to score but he headed wide of the post after Paddy Kavanagh’s corner on the right.
A chance presented itself to David McDaid after David O’Connor was dispossessed on the half way line by man of the match Rory Patterson.
The talented front man then slid McDaid through only for Gareth Matthews to get a last ditch challenge in before McDaid had a chance to pull the trigger.
Patterson stamped his authority all over the game when he netted two goals in as many minutes in the 34th and 36th minutes respectively.
In the 34th minute, Patterson latched on to neat pass from Duffy to thread the ball past UCD ‘keeper Mark McGinley.
Patterson was at it again two minutes later.
Good work from team mate Paddy Kavanagh on the right led to Patterson volleying home from 16 yards out.
The Students almost pegged a goal back in first half injury time when Creevy headed a Sean Russell free kick goalwards. Derry goalkeeper Gerard Doherty reacted brilliantly and was at full stretch to deny the midfielder.
Russell found substitute Samir Belhout with a tremendous pass in the 53rd minute and as the Algerian cut inside on the right, he went easily past Eoghan Osborne to fire a low angled shot past Doherty from 12 yards out.
UCD’s Cillian Morrison almost had the sides on level pegging seconds later when he skipped past two Derry defenders only to see his shot on goal tipped around the post by Doherty.
Morrison was made to rue his miss because Derry secured their third of the evening on the hour mark when Ruaidhri Higgins spread the ball to Simon Madden on the right and his cross from the right was fired home by youngster Michael Duffy.
With UCD beginning to accept that defeat was inevitable, the game calmed down with chances hard to come by for both teams, although Patterson almost completed what would have been a well deserved hat-trick. The striker turned on the edge of the box before hitting his shot just an inch wide of Mark McGinley’s left hand post.
Elsewhere, Cork City beat Bohemians 1-0 at Turner’s Cross, Drogheda United won 3-0 at home to Limerick FC, leaders St. Patrick’s Athletic maintained their good form with a 4-0 win over Shamrock Rovers in Tallaght and Stephen Kenny’s Dundalk F.C. strengthened their place in second with a 2-1 victory over Shelbourne in Dublin.
Next up for Derry City is Drogheda United at the Brandywell next Friday evening. Kick-off 7.45pm.
UCD: Mark McGinley; Gareth Matthews, David O’Connor, Mick Leahy (Samir Belhout 46), Michael Kelly, Hugh Douglas (Thomas Boyle 66); Dean Clarke, Robbie Creevy (Barry McCabe 69), Craig Walsh, Sean Russell ; Cillian Morrison.
Subs Not Used: Gerard Barron, Aymen Ben Mohamed, Gary Burke, Thomas O’Halloran.
Derry City: Gerard Doherty; Simon Madden, Shane McEleney, Ryan McBride, Eoghan Osborne; Paddy Kavanagh, Ruaidhri Higgins, Michael Duffy (Barry McNamee 84), Patrick McEleney; David McDaid (Sean Houston 73), Rory Patterson.
Subs Not Used: Eugene Ferry, Barry Molloy, Mark Griffin, Thomas Crawley, Ryan Curran.
Referee: Neil Doyle.