Derry City record biggest home win of season against Dundalk
DERRY CITY chalked up their biggest home win of the season against a previously in-form Dundalk team and a third victory on the bounce to keep the heat on league leaders Shamrock Rovers.
It was Derry's biggest win over Dundalk since a 4-0 hammering at Brandywell in October 2012 and just a fifth victory over the Lilywhites in the intervening years - a sequence of 42 games!
This was a one sided affair from the offset and Jordan McEneff opened the scoring on 20 minutes when he got onto the end of Cian Kavanagh's flick on before firing into the far corner of the net.
Paul Doyle cleared McEneff's header from Michael Duffy's corner off the line superbly on 53 minutes to keep the visitors in the match.
Dundalk substitute Cameron Elliot somehow blasted high over the bar with just Brian Maher to beat following a mix-up in the heart of the Derry defence and moments later fellow sub Pat Hoban headed a gilt-edged chance off target.
Brandon Kavanagh, handed his second start of the season, netted the goal of the match with a terrific strike from the edge of the area on the hour mark before ex-Dundalk winger Michael Duffy slotted in a third following a 30 yard run by Adam O'Reilly to end Dundalk's four match winning run.
Ruaidhri Higgins made four changes from Friday night' team which won at Dalymount Park with McEneff, Ronan Boyce, Cian Kavanagh and Brandon Kavanagh were handed starts. Ciaran Coll, Will Patching, Ryan Graydon and Ollie O'Neill all dropped to the bench.
The visitors also made four changes from that dramatic 2-1 turnaround against Cork at Oriel Park. Pat Hoban, Keith Ward, Ryan O'Kane and Rayhaan Tulloch all made way with Doyle, Yli-Kokko, Robbie McCourt and John Martin getting the nod.
Ex-Dundalk winger Michael Duffy warmed the hands of Nathan Sheppard on 13 minutes with a powerful 25 yard strike as the Lilywhites keeper palmed it behind.
From the resultant corner Duffy sent it long towards the back post where McJannet flung himself at the ball but the defender directed it wide of the target.
Derry broke the deadlock on 20 minutes when McEneff charged down Leahy's attempted clearance. Cian Kavanagh rose highest to nod the ball into the path of McEneff in space and the midfielder took a touch towards goal before burying his shot into the far corner for his fifth of the season.
The Brandywell injury curse reared its ugly head once again as Leahy and Shane McEleney were forced off within 10 minutes of each other. Ryan O'Kane replaced Leahy at right-back while Coll came in as a direct replacement for McEleney.
The only other chance of note in a subdued first 45 minutes arrived on 27 minutes when Duffy's corner was headed towards the back post by a Dundalk defender but Ben Doherty snapped at his shot with his left foot and screwed it wide.
Wasiri Williams was shown a yellow card for clattering into Duffy and ending a promising Derry attack but neither team could create anything else of note during four minutes of additional time.
McEneff came so close to adding a second on 53 minutes when he headed Duffy's corner towards goal but Paul Doyle did brilliantly to clear it off the line with Derry players claiming a goal.
There was no disputing Derry's second goal on the hour mark as Kavanagh took a lovely touch to bring the ball down on the edge of the box before showing two Dundalk defenders a clean pair of heels and he rifled the ball into the top corner with a sweet left-footed strike. It was a wonderful goal from the ex-Irish U21 international - his fourth in a Derry shirt.
Three minutes later Derry were in on goal once again with Duffy who fired a dangerous ball across the six yard box but Boyce couldn't get the vital touch at the back post.
Cian Kavanagh found himself in behind the Dundalk defence on 69 minutes but he was closed down brilliantly by Sheppard who made himself big and saved with his chest as Dundalk got a lucky escape.
Dundalk were almost gifted a lifeline on 77 minutes after a mix-up in the heart of the Derry defence between Doherty and McJannet allowing substitute Cameron Elliott through on goal but somehow he blasted the ball high over the bar with just Maher to beat.
Moments later O'Kane crossed towards substitute, Hoban who headed narrowly over the bar.
Derry added a third with seven minutes to go after a bursting 30 yards run from O'Reilly on the right wing as he showed strength and determination to get in behind Williams before slotting into the path of Duffy who poked it into the corner from 10 yards.
Graydon clipped the crossbar in the final minutes of the match but the game was well and truly over for the Lilywhites at that stage as Derry march on after a third clean sheet and third win on the bounce.
The Candy Stripes go into Friday’s home clash against bottom club UCD with real confidence.
Derry City: Maher, Boyce, McEleney (Coll 35), McJannet, Doherty; Diallo ([Patching 86), O'Reilly, McEneff (Dummigan 69); B. Kavanagh (Graydon 70), C. Kavanagh (O'Neill 70), Duffy.
Dundalk: Shepperd, Muller, Leahy (O'Kane 25), WIlliams; Davies, Lewis, Malley, Doyle (Hoban 68), Yli-Kokko (Kelly 68) McCourt (Elliott 73); Martin (Ward 73).
Referee: Mr Robert Harvey (Dublin).