Derry City close the gap on third place with comprehensive win over Longford

Derry City 3 Longford Town 0

Friday, 24th September 2021, 9:50 pm
Updated Friday, 24th September 2021, 9:52 pm
Junior celebrates Derry's third goal. Picture by Kevin Moore.

JUNIOR Ogedi-Uzowke produced the perfect response to the racist online trolls who sent his vile messages online as he sealed a comprehensive victory over Longford Town at Brandywell.

Derry City supporters displayed a large banner which read 'Love Junior, hate racism' in support of the striker and he put the icing on the cake of an impressive home win.

The win closed the gap on third placed Sligo Rovers to just three points and stretched Derry's unbeaten league run to seven games.

Jamie McGonigle celebrates putting Derry ahead against Longford Town. Photograph by Kevin Moore.

For the second successive game all three of Derry's strikers got on the scoresheet as the Brandywell outfit continued to build momentum in the race for European qualification.

As for Longford, the Midlanders find themselves 17 points adrift at the bottom of the table.

Before play got underway, there was a minute's applause for the late former Derry midfielder Kevin 'Crack' McKeever, a League Cup winner with the Brandywell club in 1994, who was laid to rest this morning.

Ruaidhri Higgins made four changes to the team which drew 3-3 with Bohemians on Monday night. Cameron McJannet and Danny Lafferty both returned from suspension while Will Fitzgerald and Bastien Hery came back into the starting line-up. Ciaran Coll, Evan McLaughlin, Jack Malone and Darren Cole, meanwhile, all dropped to a strong looking bench.

Derry forced a corner kick after two minutes and from Hery's delivery McJannet steered his header narrowly wide of the target.

Hery found himself in space on the edge of the Longford 18 yard box six minutes later but when AKintunde rolled it into his path, the Madagascar international screwed his shot wide.

Junior set Fitzgerald scampering clear on the right with a searching pass and the winger did well to keep his balance under pressure but clipped his shot over the bar.

Derry broke the deadlock on 16 minutes when Toal's long ball was flicked on by Junior and as Longford defender Joseph Manley hesitated, McGonigle took advantage as he raced through on goal and clinically found the far corner of the net for his fourth goal of the season.

From Fitzgerald's corner kick City skipper Toal had peeled off unmarked at the back post and his downward header was turned onto the post by Lee Steacy bounced off the post before Longford eventually cleared the danger.

Dylan Grimes caused havoc in the Derry defence with a terrific inswinging free kick from wide on the left forcing Nathan Gartside to come and fist it away.

Moments later Darragh Nugent tried his luck from distance but it was saved comfortably by Gartside as the visitors enjoyed a promising spell.

However, Derry doubled their advantage just short of the half hour mark when Fitzgerald laid the ball into the path of Akintunde and his strike from 20 yards took a wicked deflection to wrong-foot Steacy as it nestled into the corner.

Junior's ambitious free-kick from 35 yards was spilled by Steacy but the ball somehow evaded McGonigle who had gambled on the second ball.

The home side hit Longford on the counter in the final 60 seconds of the half as Hery played McGonigle through but the striker's side-footed strike bounced the wrong side of the far post.

Derry should've been further ahead four minutes into the second half but Steacy produced a brilliant point blank save to deny Junior who chested Fitzgerald's cross towards goal.

Nugent wasted an opportunity to reduce the deficit on 54 minutes when he shrugged off the challenge of McJannet, took it around the advancing Gartside but fired wide of the target from a tight angle.

Derry made certain of the win when Steacy parried Lafferty's volley into the path of Junior who lifted it over the head of the keeper and into the net.

It sealed the perfect night for the Candystripes, easing the pain of that gut-wrenching draw at Dalymount Park on Monday night.