Chris Forrester nets winner for 10 man St Pat's despite brave effort from Derry City
St Patrick's Athletic 1 Derry City 0
CHRIS FORRESTER'S first half strike proved the difference for 10 man St Patrick's Athletic on Inchicore as the Saints held off a brave Derry City to take a vital win.
The Saints playmaker netted with a thumping strike on 24 minutes and the Dubliners held on to secure three points which took them back level with the league leaders,
Danny Lafferty came so close to equalising at the end of the first half with a header and when Jamie Lennon was shown a second yellow card for a foul on James Akintunde just short of the hour mark it gave Derry the impetus and they laid siege to the Saints goal.
Skipper Eoin Toal crashed a powerful header off the crossbar and Ruaidhri Higgins went for broke with three strikers on the pitch for the final 20 minutes.
However, despite a battling effort the Saints held on for the win as Derry fell to back to back defeats on the road.
Higgins made two changes from the team which clinched a 2-0 home win over Waterford with the two goalscorers from that game, Evan McLaughlin and Joe Thomson missing out.
Thomson was on leave at home in Scotland after the birth of his second child while exciting youngster McLaughlin dropped to the bench.
Higgins refused to take a risk with new signing Jamie McGonigle who picked up a knock in training midweek with the former Crusaders striker not traveling with the squad.
However, the big news was the glaring absence of striker David Parkhouse who has been attracting interest from several Irish League clubs.
Derry lined-up in a 3-5-2 formation with Darren Cole, making just his second start of the season, deployed in a defensive midfield role while Jack Malone returned to the starting line-up in the only other change for the Candy Stripes.
It was a youthful looking bench for the visitors with 17 year-old Corey McLaughlin named among the subs.
The Saints began with the incentive of going level on points with leaders Shamrock Rovers and Sligo Rovers with victory and stretching their lead over sixth placed Derry to 13 points.
The home side were first to threaten and when Cole's attempted clearance went straight to the feet of Chris Forrester inside the Derry penalty area, the Saints midfielder's strike was blocked behind for a corner after just three minutes.
Vitezslav Jaros was called into action four minutes later when Forrester's misplaced pass was anticipated well by Junior who ran past two defenders before firing goalwards but his six yard strike was straight at the 'keeper.
Malone was booked on 18 minutes for a foul on Matty Smith and from the resultant free-kick Alfie Lewis found Robbie Benson but his header was off target.
Derry skipper Eoin Toal tried his luck from 30 yards but his effort was saved comfortably by Jaros despite bouncing awkwardly in his six yard box.
The Saints hit the front after Benson turned over possession in the Derry half and when Smith's shot on the edge of the box was charged down, the ball eventually fell to Forrester and he coolly side-stepped his marker before firing powerfully into the back of the net with his right foot.
It was a fine finish and Forrester's fourth goal of the season but Higgins will have been frustrated his team invited the pressure.
It was the end of the night for Saints striker Ronan Coughlan who limped off injured and he was replaced by Billy King immediately after the goal.
St Pat's hit Derry on the break with King getting in behind the Candystripes defence but Toal managed to get back to produce a fantastic block to put it behind for a corner on 34 minutes.
There was a let-off for the home side two minutes before the break when Malone floated a free-kick towards Toal at the back post and when the skipper headed back across the goalmouth Lafferty's glancing header went narrowly wide.
It was a huge opportunity for Derry to get back in the game with the left-back gifted a free header from close range.
St Pat's started the second half with intent and King found the run of Benson who fired the ball dangerously across the face of goal towards Darragh Burns at the back post but the youngster sent his shot wide.
Moments later Benson was causing further problems for the Derry defence and when he found the feet of Smith on the edge of the penalty area, the striker sent his shot just wide of the post.
City boss Higgins opted for a change with Will Foitzgerald replacing Cole as Derry went to a 4-4-2 formation.
From a Malone corner, St Pat's scrambled to clear and Cameron McJannet came so close to hitting the target with a well executed overhead kick from 12 yards.
St Pat's were down to 10 men when Lennon caught Akintunde on the halfway line on 58 minutes and referee Neil Doyle flashed a second yellow card to the midfielder to set up an interesting final half hour.
And Derry soon applied the pressure and almost got back on level terms on 65 minutes when Toal connected powerfully with Malone's superb corner kick but his header crashed off the crossbar.
The ball eventually came to substitute Evan McLaughlin who was lurking on the edge of the box and his well hit shot was blocked by Sam Bone.
Lafferty flashed a half volley across goal and wide of the post from 25 yards as Derry penned Pats into their own half with 10 minutes left on the clock.
McJannet sent a first time shot the wrong side of the post from a corner in stoppage time but the home side held on to clinch the win.
St Pat's: V. Jaros; J. McClelland, S. Bone, P. Barrett, D. Burns ( B. McCormack 73); M Smith, A. Lewis (J. Abankwah 62), J. Lennon, R. Benson, C. Forrester; R. Coughlan (B. King 26); Subs Not Used - B. Murphy, J. Keeley,T. Lonergan.
Derry City: N. Gartside: E Toal, C. McJannet, C. Coll (E McLaughlin 59); R. Boyce, D. Cole (W. Fitzgerald 54), C. Harkin, J. Malone (P.Ferry 72), D. Lafferty; J. Ogedi-Uzokwe, J. Akintunde: Subs Not Used - J. Lemoignan, M. McChrystal, M. Harris, C. Porter, C. McLaughlin, B. Barr.
Referee: Neil Doyle (Dublin).