UCD 1 DERRY CITY 3
DERRY CITY battled back from a first half deficit to clinch an crucial victory over 10 man UCD at the Belfield Bowl as they pipped Bohemians into third place.
It was a second consecutive victory for the Candy Stripes and the comeback win, coupled with Bohemians' shock loss to Finn Harps at Ballybofey, ensured they moved into the third automatic European slot on goal difference with just eight league matches to go.
However, they had to do it the hard way as former Man United youth, Sam Byrne stunned the visitors with a 28th minute strike against the run of play.
Eoin Toal had a close range header turned behind by Gavin Sheridan and Ally Gilchrist's header was cleared off the line by Mark Dignam before Jamie McDonagh cancelled out UCD's opener with four minutes the break.
Ex-UCD front man, Conor Davis injected fresh life into City's attack midway through the second half and he put the Candy Stripes into the lead for the first time moments after coming off the bench with a neat finish following a one-two with Barry McNamee.
Jack Keaney was shown a second yellow card by referee, Tomas Connolly for a challenge on Ciaron Harkin with three minutes to go and David Parkhouse sealed the win with his 10th league goal of the season.
Derry City were unchanged from the team which won comfortably against Waterford on Monday night with Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe missing out again through injury.
It was a nervous start from the home side and when Evan Farrell's loose pass gave McCrudden something to chase, the ball eventually went out for a corner after just 20 seconds.
Jamie McDonagh crossed deep into the box which hung in the air but ex-UCD midfielder, Greg Sloggett's header failed to trouble keeper, Gavin Sheridan.
Derry looked dangerous and McDonagh drove forward from the right wing and his side-footed cross needed to be tipped over the crossbar by Sheridan.
Darren Cole sent McNamee into space on the right wing on 13 minutes and the skipper's low cross just had too much on it as it got away from striker, Parkhouse who was in space inside the six yard box.
McDonagh did superbly to skip past the challenge of Farrell but his cross was deflected away from goal by Liam Scales. McCrudden picked up the pieces and laid it back into the path of Bruna but the Argentine's curling effort went harmlessly over.
Moments later McCrudden sent Parkhouse in behind the UCD defence with a lovely pass but the striker's left footed strike from an angle went high over the bar.
From a Bruna free-kick the ball fell to Eoin Toal at the far post and his low shot from a tight angle was put behind by Harry McEvoy.
McNamee's resultant corner kick was floated into the back post but Toal's point blank header was parried behind by superbly by the UCD keeper.
Despite Derry's early dominance UCD broke the deadlock after a lovely build-up on 28 minutes. Mark Dignam got in behind the City defence, took a touch to take it away from Peter Cherrie before picking out the run of Byrne who steered the ball into the corner - the first goal the students scored against Derry this season!
The visitors were stunned but they came close to getting back into the game after McCrudden forced a corner kick five minutes later. McDonagh's corner kick was punched clear by Sheridan and when Ally Gilchrist headed it back towards goal, Dignam cleared it off the line.
Derry got back on level terms four minutes before the interval when McDonagh beat the out-rushing Sheridan to a fantastic ball over the top from Bruna and fired into the empty net.
UCD soaked up the pressure at the start of the second half before a swift counter from the students cut Derry open as Byrne played Mahdy into space but the front man's strike was diverted away from goal by the outstretched leg of Gilchrist.
At the other end McNamee's inswinging corner kick was met by a glancing header from Gilchrist towards the far post but Liam Kerrigan managed to head clear the danger.
UCD goalscorer, Byrne tried his luck from 30 yards when he found himself in space and his dipping effort wasn't too far off target but Cherrie had it covered on 67 minutes.
Devine brought former UCD frontman, Davis off the bench to inject life into the City attack with 19 minutes remaining. And the striker, who replaced another ex-student, Sloggett, made an instant impact as he returned passes with McNamee before striking low to the keeper's right to give City the lead.
Davis could have added a second on 82 minutes when he got onto the end of Parkhouse's flick on the edge of the box, shrugged off the challenge of McEvoy but fired his shot from a narrow angle across the face of goal and wide.
The home side were reduced to 10 men with three minutes to go as Keaney was shown a second yellow card for a rash challenge on City substitute, Ciaron Harkin.
The impressive Bruna won the ball in the middle of the park, drove forward before slotting Parkhouse into space and the striker sent his shot low into the bottom right corner to put the game beyond the Dubliners.
UCD: G. Sheridan; E. Farrell, H. McEvoy, L. Scales, M. Dignam; D. Tobin (D. Kinsella Bishop 82), J. Keaney, J. McClelland, L. Kerrigan (J. Ryan 88); Y. Mahdy; S. Byrne (R. O'Farrell 71): Subs Not Used - T. Murphy, I. Akinsete, R. O'Farrell, L. Boore, A. McGrath.
Derry City: P. Cherrie; D. Cole, E. Toal, A. Gilchrist, C. Coll: J. McDonagh, G. Sloggett (C. Davis 71), G. Bruna, M. McCrudden (G. Gillespie 64); B. McNamee (C. Harkin 82); D. Parkhouse; Subs Not Used - N. Gartside, M. McChrystal, A. Delap, J. Malone
Referee - Tomas Connolly.