Derry City extend lead at the top with victory in UCD

UCD 0 Derry City 2

Will Patching celebrates his second half goal which gave Derry City the lead in UCD. Photo by Kevin Moore.
Will Patching celebrates his second half goal which gave Derry City the lead in UCD. Photo by Kevin Moore.

UNBEATEN DERRY City stretched their advantage at the top of the table to SIX points with two second half goals against bottom of the table UCD at this rearranged fixture at the Belfield.

It was Derry's second win in Dublin in the space of four days as they now turn their attention towards Saturday's North West derby against Finn Harps in Ballybofey where they will look to finish the first series of fixtures unbeaten.

Will Patching's peach of a free-kick, his fourth strike of the season, was the pick of the goals at UCD as Derry finally found a way past the plucky Students' defence on 67 minutes.

Ronan Boyce added the insurance goal with his second in two games as he coolly slotted home Cameron McJannet's cross from close range on 78 minutes.

Derry displayed patience having struck the woodwork THREE times with Cameron Dummigan, Brandon Kavanagh and Patching all denied.

Ruaidhri Higgins made two changes to the team which defeated Bohemians at Dalymount Park on Friday night.

Patrick McEleney and Matty Smith, who made a significant impact from the bench in the 2-1 win over the Gypsies, were back in the starting line-up at the expense of Danny Lafferty and Joe Thomson.

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Will Patching fires into the corner of the UCD net from a free-kick in the second half. Photograph by Kevin Moore.

It was a big night for teenager Daithi McCallion who was named on the bench for the first time since signing his first professional contract with the club back in January.

As one of just two League of Ireland fixtures played on the night, Shamrock Rovers manager Stephen Bradley and Dundalk boss Stephen O'Donnell were among the interested spectators in attendance.

The Students started confidently and forced Brandon Kavanagh sent an inviting cross towards the near post but McGonigle couldn't get enough on his glancing header and the chance was lost.

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On the other side, Ronan Boyce foundWill Patching in space just inside the UCD penalty area but he turned and shot on the volley wide of the near post with the outside of the boot.

Derry City keeper Brian Maher comes off his line to clear the ball against UCD at the Bowl. Photograph by Kevin Moore.

Derry's first real chance of the match arrived on 11 minutes when McGonigle turned inside the penalty area and opted to lay the ball into the path of Smith but the striker's low shot was stopped by Lorcan Healy and Eric Yoro cleared the danger.

Liam Kerrigan flashed a low shot across the face of goal and wide of the far post on 16 minutes after Derry lost possession in their own half.

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However, City upped the ante and created a flurry of chances during an encouraging five minutes spell.

On 18 minutes Dummigan came so close to opening the scoring. The Lurgan man was afforded time and space 35 yards from goal and his well struck effort crashed back off the outside of the post.

Derry kept possession and when Patching turned his man, he tried his luck from 20 yards on his left foot but Healy dived to his left to smother the danger.

Moments later Derry really should've been ahead when Kavanagh threaded a beautiful pass through the middle of the home defence into the path of McGonigle. The striker took it in his stride but, with just the keeper to beat, scuffed his shot and it bounced wide of the mark.

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Smith switched the play with a superb crossfield pass to find the run of McGonigle on 26 minutes. The Dungiven man played a neat pass into Kavanagh and the ex-Shamrock Rovers midfielder's dipping strike from 20 yards crashed off the underside of the crossbar.

Derry were turning the screw as the first half drew to a close but on 41 minutes UCD had a chance to fire into the empty net as Maher was caught out of position after racing off his line and failing to find touch with his clearance.

Colm Whelan struggled to get turned towards goal and when he eventually did, he sent a wayward shot from 35 yards well wide of the target. It was a let off for the visitors and Patching then fired narrowly wide from a free-kick wide of the left moments later.

Despite Derry's dominance for large spells of the first half, UCD's goal was living a charmed life and the teams went in at the break on level terms.

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UCD keeper dived at full stretch to his left to derby Patrick McEleney's curling effort from creeping into the corner of the net five minutes after the restart.

And Patching's spectacular effort from 30 yards crashed off the top of the crossbar and went over as the woodwork denied Derry for a third time in the match!

Derry did have the ball in the back of the UCD net on 65 minutes from a Patching corner kick which was met by the head of skipper Toal and bounced into the bottom corner of the net.

However, the assistant referee raised his flag for an infringement on the UCD defender much to the dismay of the City players who protested in vain.

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It mattered little as Patching stepped up to fire a stunning free-kick into the corner of the net to finally break the deadlock on 67 minutes for his fourth goal of the season.

UCD broke quickly on 70 minutes through dangerman Kerrigan who drilled his low strike narrowly wide with Maher at full stretch.

Derry doubled their advantage on 78 minutes when McJannet's cross from the left somehow found its way to the back post through a body of players and Boyce applied a cool finish from 10 yards.

Derry managed to ease their way to victory in the end and go into Saturday's derby with confidence and six points clear of nearest rivals Shamrock Rovers.

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UCD: L.Healy: M. Gallagher, E. Osam, S. Todd, E. Yoro, J. Ryan (D. Duffy 72); J. Keaney, L. Kerrigan, S. Brennan (D. Higgins 72), S. Todd, A. Verdon (E. Caffrey 60), C. Whelan (L. Gill 84); Subs Not Used - K. Moore, L. Boore, E. Caffrey, E. Farrell, A. Dunne, D. Higgins, L. Gill, A. Nolan.

Derry City: B. Maher: S. McEleney, E. Toal, C. McJannet; R. Boyce, C. Dummigan, W. Patching (J. Malone 85), P. McEleney (J. Thomson 75); B. Kavanagh (E. McLaughlin 85); J. McGonigle, M. Smith (J. Akintunde 71); Subs Not Used - N. Gartside, C. Coll, G. Storey, D. Lafferty, D. McCallion.

Referee - Kevin O'Sullivan