Shamrock Rovers 2, Derry City 0
DERRY CITY lost further ground in the race for European football as they slumped to another comprehensive defeat to Shamrock Rovers at Tallaght Stadium.
Rovers, who stretched their winning run to three matches, have certainly gained the momentum in that battle for third and this win moved the Hoops three clear of City in fourth.
It was a second consecutive loss and a seventh defeat in 10 league fixtures for Kenny Shiels' men who never really tested Rovers keeper, Gavin Bazunu throughout the 90 minutes.
Gerard Doherty had kept Rovers at bay in the early stages with two terrific saves from Ronan Finn and Brandon Kavanagh.
However, they fell behind in first half stoppage time when Sean Kavanagh's cross wasn't dealt with and Dan Carr was allowed to turn before he blasted into the net.
Joel Coustrain added a second on 65 minutes as Rovers carved their way through the City defence and it was all too easy for the home lot.
City were looking to bounce back from that heavy 4-0 loss to Dundalk at Brandywell prior to the midseason break.
Shiels made just one enforced change from that match with the suspended Aaron McEneff replaced by new signing, Ben Fisk, making his full debut for the club.
Rovers began life without top scorer, Graham Burke while Stephen Bradley also had to plan without the influential Greg Bolger who served a one match ban alongside Ethan Boyle. In came Brandon Kavanagh and Roberto Lopes as replacements.
There were encouraging signs from City's debutante, Fisk, who showed a willingness to get on the ball and he slipped a couple of promising early passes in behind the Rovers' defence but the visitors were unable to hurt their opponents.
It was Rovers who fashioned the first clear cut chance on 12 minutes when Brandon Kavanagh's reverse pass sent Carr in on goal and the striker turned Doyle before striking narrowly wide of the post.
Finn was then sent scampering clear with a ball over the top from Bone as Darren Cole mistimed his challenge but Doherty parried the Dubliner's shot clear of danger.
Rovers should've hit the front on 18 minutes when Brandon Kavanagh found himself in behind the Derry defence and one-on-one with Doherty but the City keeper managed to get the slightest of touches to divert it behind.
On the half hour mark Bone fizzed a powerful effort from 25 yards narrowly wide of the Derry goal with Doherty at full stretch as Rovers looked most likely to break the deadlock.
Sean Kavanagh delivered a teasing ball across the face of the Derry goal on 36 minutes which was cleared by Doyle but only as far as Carr 12 yards from goal but he volleyed it harmlessly wide of the target.
Derry had their best chance of the half four minutes from the interval when Fisk's ball into the penalty area was headed into the path of Patterson who took it down before hitting a half volley with his right boot wide of the left post.
Moments later Finn almost caught Doherty out with a long range effort but the City skipper gathered at the second attempt.
Rovers finally found the back of the net two minutes into first half stoppage time when Joel Coustrain's cross from the left was headed towards Carr by McDermott and the striker turned beautifully before blasting into the roof of the net from 12 yards.
It was disastrous timing for the Candy Stripes and the ball should've been cleared but Rovers will certainly have felt they deserved the slender lead at the break.
Rovers were gifted a chance to double their lead 10 minutes after the restart when Derry lost possession playing it out from the back. Finn found Brandon Kavanagh on the edge of the box with a superb pass but the winger's curling effort was comfortably saved by Doherty.
Fisk tried his luck from 25 yards on the edge of the Rovers' area and Gavin Bazunu was forced into making a decent save.
It was an encouraging spell for the visitors but Rovers doubled their lead on 65 minutes following a sweeping move.
Finn kept the ball alive as he nodded a crossfield ball into the path of Sean Kavanagh. He found Carr inside the box and his shot was deflected off Doyle and it fell to Coustrain who took a touch before burying his close range shot into the corner.
It was the 26th goal conceded by Derry in the last 10 league matches and Shiels will welcome the opening of the Transfer Window on Sunday as he brings in badly needed reinforcements.
Shamrock Rovers: G. Bazunu; J. O'Brien, L. Grace, R. Lopes, S. Kavanagh; J. Coustrain (A. Bolger 77), D. McAllister, S. Bone, B. Kavanagh (B. Miele 77); R. Finn; D. Carr (S. Boyd 85); Subs Not Used - K. Horgan, L. Byrne, G. Shaw, A. Gilchrist.
Derry City: G. Doherty; J. McDonagh, C. McDermott (G; Peers h-t), E. Toal, J. Doyle; Ronan Hale (A. Delap 71), D. Cole, R. Hale, B. Doherty; B. Fisk (S. McNamee 86); R. Patterson; Subs Not Used - E. Grimes, C. Farren, E. Tweed, N. Logue.
Referee: Robert Rogers.