Derry City’s title aspirations remain well and truly intact after a less than savoury victory over Dublin side Bohemians F.C. at the Brandywell on Friday evening.
Declan Devine’s men took the lead early on in the first half when Patrick McEleney found the back of the net but Kevin Devanney equalised just before half time for the visitors.
Bohemians threatened to snatch a draw towards the end but Michael Rafter’s 55th minute goal was to be the difference between the two teams.
The man-of-the-match on the night was Derry City full-back Simon Madden.
Dublin born Madden provided the assist for both Derry City goals and the skill he displayed in the build up to Rafter’s second half goal compares with the best witnessed at Brandywell in recent years.
Madden has been one of Derry’s most consistent players since joining from Dundalk F.C. last season and his value to the team has not gone unnoticed by manager, Declan Devine.
“Simon Madden is as good a player as I have ever seen at my time at the Brandywell.
“He played well tonight. We are very lucky to have Simon and I just hope we can hold on to him - he is a great talent,” said Devine after the game.
Madden was integral to the build up to Derry City’s opening goal.
The former Leeds United player found space on the right before sending a tremendous cross into the Bohemians’ area. Michael Rafter attempted to head the ball towards goal but failed to connect and the ball eventually arrived at the feet of Patrick McEleney on the edge of the area.
McEleney dropped his left shoulder and fired his shot goalwards. The ball took a slight deflection off Michael Barker before finding its way past Bohemians’ goalkeeper Dean Delaney.
Tricky right winger Karl Moore had a great chance to equalise for Bohemians in the 16th minute but the 24 year-old former Manchester City player could not put the ball past Gerard Doherty.
Moore had another fantastic opportunity to restore parity in the 34th minute but his close range effort came off the boot of Derry City captain Kevin Deery and was tipped around the post by Doherty.
Kevin Deery found team mate Michael Rafter with a cross in the 47th minute but the former Dundalk F.C. striker headed the ball over the crossbar.
The Candy Stripes regained the lead in the 55th minute when Michael Rafter converted Simon Madden’s cross from the right.
Patrick Kavanagh passed the ball to Madden, who was close to the touchline on the right. With his back to Ciaran Nangle, Madden flicked the ball over the defender’s head and sprinted down the right wing before crossing into the area.
Rafter’s finish from close distance was sublime and it was one of the finest goals Derry City have scored all season.
Robert Lopes had a shot charged down by Gerard Doherty in the 71st minute and while the Creggan shot-stopper uncharacteristically fumbled the ball he regained control before Bohemians could capitalise.
Michael Rafter played an intelligent through ball to second half substitute Sean Houston in the 78th minute. Letterkenny born Houston was essentially in a one on one situation with Delaney but his timid shot trickled well wide of the Bohemians’ goal.
Karl Moore made his way past Barry McNamee in the 81st minute before slotting the ball to substitute Chris Lyons who fired just wide of the post.
Houston was provided with another fantastic chance to score when team mate Michael Duffy found space to cross on the left.
Duffy’s pass was inch perfect and despite being only yards from goal, Houston again failed to hit the target.
Derry City winger Patrick McEleney attempted the audacious in the 88th minute when he found space on the right.
McEleney looked like he was readying himself to cross the ball but at the last minute he attempted to chip the ball over Delaney’s head and it went just narrowly over the bar.
Friday’s win means Derry City remain in second place; three points behind leaders St. Patrick’s Athletic but the Candy Stripes have played one game less.
Derry City: Gerard Doherty; Simon Madden, Shane McEleney, Stewart Greacen, Barry McNamee; Mark Griffin (Michael Duffy 57), Ruaidhri Higgins (Barry Molloy 68), Patrick McEleney; Patrick Kavanagh (Sean Houston 71), Michael Rafter.
Subs not used: Ryan McBride, James Gallagher, Ryan Curran, Raymond Foy.
Bohemians: Dean Delaney; Michael Barker, Roberto Lopes, Luke Byrne, Ciaran Nagle (Chris Lyons 77); Karl Moore, Ryan McEvoy, Keith Buckley, Kevin Devanney (Andy Mulligan 46); Dave Scully, Shane Murray (Kevin O’Leary 88).
Subs not used: Daragh Raynor, Michael Scott, Gregg Murray, Santiago Falbo.
Referee: Mr. Padraigh Sutton (Clare).