Dundalk 1, Derry City 0
DERRY CITY were denied a precious point against league champions Dundalk at Oriel Park as a deflected John Mountney strike right at the death ensured Stephen Kenny’s side maintained their 100 per cent winning start at the Co. Louth venue.
It was a bitter blow for Peter Hutton’s side who battled bravely against the unbeaten league leaders throughout but they could do nothing to prevent a fortuitous 86th minute strike which agonisingly crept past goalkeeper, Shaun Patton to gift Dundalk a seventh consecutive home victory.
Derry boss, Peter Hutton had called for a significant improvement from last weekend’s demoralising home loss to Galway United and he got it but the Candy Stripes are now without a win in four league games after the frustrating conclusion to this encounter.
It’s a worrying statistic for the Foylesiders but Hutton will certainly take plenty of encouragement from his side’s performance at the home of the champions who have won 11 of their opening 13 matches.
And they will have restored some pride and confidence after this display. Hutton’s men did have their chances too and on a different night could have had a penalty. Indeed there was a big claims for a penalty kick on 65 minutes when the impressive Cillian Morrison appeared to be brought down by Dundalk defender, Paddy Barrett but referee, Jim McKell waved away the protests.
And despite going behind to that deflected strike from Mountney with four minutes on the clock, Ryan Curran was presented with a promising chance to equalise but Andy Boyle cleared off the line.
It was a cruel end to the game for the visitors but they will take plenty of positives from their performance.
Hutton had made four changes to the team which suffered that shock loss to Galway United.
With regular goalkeeper, Gerard Doherty injured (back), Shaun Patton (19) earned a first start while Seamus Sharkey, Seanan Clucas and Dean Jarvis were all recalled to the starting line-up. Josh Daniels and Anthony Elding were both dropped to the bench.
As for Dundalk, who came into the game in terrific form boasting an unbeaten record, Stephen Kenny made just one enforced change from their 2-0 win in Longford. Experienced centre half, Graham Gartland (hamstring) replaced by Paddy Barrett.
Dundalk made a promising start to the game and should have opened the scoring with just four minutes on the clock.
A long ball over the top by Sean Gannon led to a mistake from Shane McEleney but David McMillan was unable to capitalise and screwed his shot wide of goal. It was a lucky escape for Derry and indeed, McEleney who should have dealt with the long punt upfield better.
Three minutes later and Gannon left Jarvis in his wake, weaving his way into the box from the right side after playing a one-two with McMillan but his attempt was blocked by Ryan McBride and the chance was lost.
Dundalk were dominating possession and Richie Towell did well to get his cross in on 18 minutes but Ronan Finn headed over the crossbar as Patton remained untroubled.
One minute later Aaron Barry ran 40 yards down the left side and put in a decent ball into the box and Morrison’s glancing header was saved by Gary Rogers. It was a promising chance for the visitors as they tested Rogers for the first time.
Derry created another good opportunity moments later when Mark Timlin came inside and unleashed a shot which was spilled by Rogers and with Jarvis ready to pounce inside the six yard box, the Dundalk goalkeeper managed to gather at the second attempt, taking a knock for his troubles.
Derry were certainly making it difficult for Dundalk in the opening half hour, stifling the Lilywhites’ attack but they were causing plenty of problems going forward.
Dundalk came close on 32 minutes, however, when Patton misjudged the flight of Daryl Horgan’s superb cross and when Shane McEleney came to clear, his header went narrowly past the post for corner kick.
Derry certainly finished the half strongest but team boss, Hutton will have been delighted to go in at the break with the game deadlocked.
The ‘Candy Stripes’ continued to frustrate Dundalk after the break and when McEleney’s back pass allowed Darren Meenan through on goal, the Derry centre half recovered well and managed to get a toe to the ball to deny his fellow Derry man on the hour mark.
On 65 minutes Derry striker, Morrison raced inside the Dundalk penalty area and tumbled to the ground under pressure from Barrett. There were huge claims for a penalty from the Derry bench, however, referee, Jim McKell waved ‘play on’.
Ten minutes later and Dundalk registered their first shot on target when substitute Stephen O’Donnell’s sweetly struck attempt on the half volley was tipped over the crossbar by the alert Patton.
Gannon then drove forward on 84 minutes but his low drive was saved comfortably by Patton as Dundalk cranked up the pressure.
And with four minutes to go Dundalk fortuitously broke the deadlock as substitute, Mountney’s shot took a wicked deflection off McEleney and crept past the reach of a helpless Patton.
That goal led to a frantic end to the game and from a quick break, Curtis Byrne found himself was one-on-one with the Derry keeper but Patton did superbly to deny the substitute.
Straight up the other end and Ryan Curran found himself in a great position inside the box but as he shaped to take the shot on his right foot, he allowed Dundalk defender Andy Boyle to clear the danger.
Despite six minutes of injury time, City couldn’t force an equaliser as Dundalk stretched their lead at the top.
Dundalk: G. Rogers; S. Gannon, A. Boyle, P. Barrett, D. Massey; C. Shields (S. O’Donnell 66), D. Meenan (J. Mountney 69), R. Towell, D. Horgan; R. Finn (K. Byrne 83), D. McMillan; Subs Not Used - S. Grimes, J. Kelly, C. O’Connor, G. Sava.
Derry City: S. Patton; S. Sharkey, S. McEleney, R. McBride, A. Barry; S. Sharkey, S. Clucas, B. McNamee, P. Lowry, M. Timin; C. Morrison (R. Curran 82); Subs Not Used: S. Kelly, A. Elding, J. Daniels, S. Houston, R. Curtis, M. Lynch.
Referee: Jim McKell.