Derry City warm up for Riga visit with victory at Bohemians

Bohemians 2 Derry City 3

Matty Smith volleys into the roof of the net to restore Derry City's lead. Photograph by Kevin Moore.
Matty Smith volleys into the roof of the net to restore Derry City's lead. Photograph by Kevin Moore.

DERRY CITY warmed up for the visit of Riga FC to Brandywell in the Europa Conference League on Thursday with a hard earned victory over Bohemians at Dalymount Park.

The Phibsborough venue has been a happy haunting ground for City boss Ruaidhri Higgins who has yet to lose a match against his Bohemians counterpart Keith Long since taking charge of the Brandywell club in April 2021.

Fixtures between these two teams in recent months have been entertaining to say the least and this one proved no different in the end.

Derry City midfielder Joe Thomson celebrates opening the scoring with a lovely lobbed effort at the end of the first half. Photograph by Kevin Moore.

City were made to work for three valuable points on this occasion with Dawson Devoy's own goal providing decisive in the end.

Joe Thomson gave the visitors the lead with a well executed lobbed effort from outside the box when Bohs keeper Tadgh Ryan raced off his line three minutes before the interval.

Ali Coote struck early in the second half to get Bohs back in the game but Derry were back in front 60 seconds later thanks to Matty Smith's volley at the back post.

Will Patching's free-kick was turned into his own net by Devoy to extend Derry's lead with 15 minutes to go but it was far from over.

The midfielder made amends 10 minutes later with a stunning strike from distance to set up a nervy finish.

Twice the Derry defence cleared off the line in a frantic finale but the Candystripes held on for a valuable win as they picked up a bit of form going into Thursday's big European tie against the Latvians.

Higgins made two changes from the team which clinched a first win at eight attempts last weekend at UCD.

Striker Jamie McGonigle and midfielder Brandon Kavanagh were surprise omissions with the duo starting on the bench.

It was the first time McGonigle was out of the starting line-up since April 18th when he sat out the 1-1 draw away to Drogheda United.

The Dungiven man was replaced by James Akintunde who scored a dramatic late winner on Derry's last trip to Dalymount while Danny Lafferty replaced Kavanagh.

The big news for City was skipper Eoin Toal returned to the squad and took his place on the bench following his recovery from an ankle injury.

Higgins opted with an attacking 3-4-1-2 formation with Akintunde and Matty Smith leading the attack and Thomson playing just in behind the front two.

Lafferty and Porter were deployed in wingback roles with Patching and McEleney the central midfield pairing.

It was the home side who fired the first shot in anger, however, when Omochere attacked on the left wing before finding Devoy on the edge of the Derry penalty area. The Bohs midfielder had time to take a touch onto his left foot before drilling his effort across goal and wide of the far post on five minutes.

Bohemians were applying the pressure and almost capitalised from a misplaced pass from Brian Maher which went straight to the feet of Kris Twardek 25 yards from goal but the Canadian's attempted lob was high and wide.

At the other end Patching tested the reflexes of Tadhg Ryan when he bent his free-kick from 25 yards over the wall but the Bohs keeper parried it clear at full stretch.

Ryan made a superb double save from point blank range as the game suddenly burst into life. Firstly Lafferty got onto the end of Porter's cross from the right; his shot was blocked brilliantly by the Bohs keeper. Ryan then needed to be brave to deny Thomson's follow-up.

The Scot's chance was the best of the match up until that point and Ryan made himself big at the near post to deny Derry the lead on 36 minutes.

Moments later Omochere played a neat one-two with Ogedi-Uzokwe before firing low towards goal from 12 yards but Maher saved superbly with his outstretched foot.

Derry broke the deadlock on 42 minutes when Porter found Thomson on the right wing with a clipped ball over the top. The former Celtic man spotted Ryan racing needlessly off his line and lobbed the ball deftly over his head and into the net.

It was a cool finish from the Scotsman but the Bohs keeper was caught in no man's land.

That finish was enough to separate the sides at the half-time break.

Bohs started the second half brightly and from Twardek's cross, Omochere peeled off his man at the penalty spot but his downward header was saved by Maher.

Derry looked comfortable but Bohs were back on level terms on 59 minutes after Porter's headed clearance fell to Coote just inside the penalty area and he rifled his volley clinically into the bottom corner.

It was disappointing for the 100 plus travelling Derry supporters who were drenched in the pouring rain behind Maher's goal.

Derry restored their lead less than 60 seconds later straight from the kick-off. Again teenager Porter was involved as his searching cross towards the back post found Smith who volleyed into the roof of the net from close range. It was a terrific finish and no more than the visitors deserved.

It proved the last action for the impressive Porter as he limped off to be replaced by Kavanagh but the former Ballymoor player can be proud of his contribution on the night with an assist in either half.

City's top scorer McGonigle was then introduced and didn't have long to wait until he was in the thick of the action.

He raced down the left side of the Bohs penalty box but crewed his effort across the face of goal and out for the throw in.

Derry added a third from Patching's inswinging free-kick into a dangerous area and while sub Toal appeared to get a touch on the ball, it was Devoy who put the ball in the back of his own net on 75 minutes.

Devoy made amends 10 minutes later with a stunning strike from 30 yards which gave Maher no chance.

It made for a nervous finale for Derry and Omochere's header from a corner in the final minute was hooked off the line by McEleney as the visitors survived sustained pressure.

The fourth official signalled four additional minutes but Bohs couldn't force an equaliser and Derry deservedly held on for back to back league wins at a crucial time.

Bohemians: Ryan; Murphy (Kelly 81), Feely, Doherty, Flores; Twardek, Coote, Devoy, Levingston (Wilson 71), Twardek (Mullins 65), Omochere, Ogedi-Uzokwe; Subs Not Used - Folan, Wilson, Burt, O'Brien, Doran, Byrne, McManus.

Derry City: Maher; Porter (Kavanagh 62), McJannett, McEleney, Coll; Smith (E. McLaughlin 90), Thomson, McEleney, Lafferty (Toal 61); Patching; Akintunde (McGonigle 71); Subs Not Used - Gartside, McLaughlin, Malone, O. McLoughlin, McCallion, Mullan.

Referee - Paul McLaughlin.